Indian players can benefit from ISL, says Indian national team coach

India football coach Stephen Constantine with captain Sunil Chhetri (File)

India football coach Stephen Constantine believes domestic players have lots to gain from the Indian Super League as they rub shoulders with knowledgeable international players and train under quality foreign coaches.

The ISL since its inception in 2014 has attracted international players who have played in some of the best leagues around the world and Constantine believes the Indian players have lots to learn from players who have plied their trade at much higher levels before making a move to India.

“The positive impact has been the sharing of experience from the foreign recruits, or may I call it the knowledge transfer. So many foreign recruits who have played at much higher levels are coming to India to play in the ISL. They are here to share their experience and do it in a positive manner. It’s now up to the Indian player to grasp as much as possible from them. It is a unique opportunity and one needs to make the most of it. You won’t get such a chance every day,” said Constantine while discussing the positive impact that the ISL has had on Indian football.

Apart from the foreign players, the ISL has also attracted many leading coaches from around the world with Brazilian legend Zico, now into his third season with FC Goa, being the most famous name. There are other coaches who have handled top clubs in the past and Constantine has been left in no doubt that there is plenty to learn.

“It’s so significant that we have some very good coaches who are coaching in the ISL. A player can improve only when he trains under a quality coach. The ISL is providing the opportunity to the Indian player. I expect them to approach it positively, be inquisitive and learn as much as possible to add expertise and more value to the Indian player and Indian football as a whole. I would expect my players to interact and learn as much as possible. There is no substitute to learning,” said Constantine who is now into his second stint with the Indian football team.

Constantine felt even fans should be celebrating the excitement that ISL provides as a plethora of matches leaves them spoilt for a choice.

“The graph of the awareness levels among the masses is on the increase. More people in India are now aware and follow the beautiful game. The coverage which FSDL have provided to the ISL has been splendid. As a fan, you are spoilt for choices as there are so many games in a week. You don’t have to wait till the weekend for the matches. It’s being served on a platter for you,” he said.

The third edition of the ISL kicks off on October 1 with NorthEast United facing Kerala Blasters in the opener at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati.

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