Kolkata, July 8 (IANS) Former India captain and Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) co-owner Sourav Ganguly said on Wednesday that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has to play a bigger role in taking the game forward in the country.
Though the Indian Super League (ISL) took the country by storm in its first season, the national team (ranked 141) went down 1-2 against Guam, ranked 33 places below them in the rankings, in their 2018 World Cup qualifying round group match last month.
“Success of any sport nationally, internationally depends on infrastructure of the entire system, ISL is for two months and it is slowly improving the infrastructure but I believe that the AIFF has to play a bigger role if football in India has to go forward,” Ganguly told reporters here after unveiling ATK’s jersey for the second season.
The former left-hand batsman, who incidentally also has his birthday on Wednesday, was greeted with the “Happy Birthday” song upon his arrival.
“ISL needs AIFF’s support, it cannot be the other way round. Like in cricket the BCCI supports the IPL and BCCI is the body which runs cricket in India and sees the domestic structure too,” he said.
Ganguly also believes the standard of football in the country has not improved at all in the last few years.
“I think the AIFF has to play an important role, the time here is very difficult, ISL has just happened but the overall standard has not improved for the last few years but we have to try and build infrastructure,” he said.
Ganguly added the league provides a great platform for the players.
“ISL only started last year and it is a great platform for the Indian players and us to be a part of it,” he said.
The 43-year-old also welcomed the transformation from artificial turf to natural grass at the Salt Lake stadium stating it will be an advantage for ATK, who will play their home matches there. ATK will conduct their pre-season training at the newly-laid ground in August, he said.
“It will be an advantage, we had a lot of injuries last year so I believe it will be easier to play on it this time,” he said.