Former Arsenal football legend Thierry Henry, who was in Mumbai for a promotional event organised by Puma on Wednesday, said he is excited at the manner in which Indian football is shaping up with the Indian Super League (ISL).
Henry, who attended an ISL match between Mumbai City FC and Atletico de Kolkata at the latter's Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, said it was a great experience to watch a game here and to interact with fans of both sides. "It was great experience to meet fans and talk to Robin Singh, a young talent from India. Being in the stadium was a different kind of atmosphere. I know some of the stadiums were not available for the ISL because of the 2017 Under-17 World Cup that will take place here. But it's a good thing and maybe it will be a good tournament. It's a great time for India, not just in football, but sports in general," Henry said in the round table conference organised by Puma in Mumbai.
The star of the match on Tuesday was Mumbai City striker Diego Forlan, incidentally someone Henry knows fairly well from their times together in the Premier League for Manchester United and Arsenal respectively. "I also saw some of the old guys that I used to play against, like Diego Forlan, who scored the winner for Mumbai," Henry recalled.
However, he made it clear that having veterans involved with the sport will only help in promoting the league. What will actually benefit promoting football at the grassroots level are the youth of the nation, Henry said. "The most important thing is the grassroot development of football. It's important to bring in international players and coaches, as it will help youngsters learn alongside them. But the future of the league and the sport in India will only be through grassroots and the youth. Raising awareness is important at the beginning to make sure people talk about the league, but what will make it successful is the youngsters coming through," he said.
Watch the full interview here:
Updated Date: Oct 26, 2016 22:48:38 IST