NEW DELHI: AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das on Thursday said that the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) contributed immensely in 'developing the infrastructure' for football in the country.
"The year 2014 was a significant one for Indian Football as there were three key events which were game changers in the real sense," said Das at the inauguration of the FICCI Goal 2015 at the FICCI Federation House here.
"Firstly, the Hero Indian Super League exceeded our expectations. It was very successful in bringing in the adrenalin rush. There were families who thronged the Stadias and that was all we wanted.
"Not to forget that the Hero Indian Super League has contributed immensely to the development of infrastructure in the Country. It has created and developed infrastructure for Football," he added.
It was in October 2014 that the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League kicked-off amidst much fanfare at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
"When you talk about quality, you can't judge it unless it's there in front of you. And in that perspective, the ISL has brought in a quality. There are emerging young Players
like Romeo Fernandes, Sandesh Jhingan and a whole lot others making a mark and Indian Football is only benefiting.
"However, there's always a comparison among the ISL and the Hero I-League which isn't fair. The ISL was created for a purpose and it has had a rub-on effect on the Hero Federation Cup and the Hero I-League. The appetite for Football has been created and it's here to grow from here.
"The I-League should be compared from what it was some three years back. At that time, we did not have a sponsor while today Hero is on board for support for three editions. Today, courtesy the Hero ISL, we can today afford to have all matches under the floodlights. The rub-on effect has been splendid," he added.
Talking further about AIFF's vision for Indian Football, Das mentioned about the launch of the 'AIFF Strategic Plan.'
"I can stretch out my neck and say that All India Football Federation is the sole Sporting Federation in the country to have a four-year Strategic Plan," Das said.
"It was launched by Jerome Valcke, Secretary General, FIFA in 2014 in New Delhi. We sat down with all stakeholders, did a situational and a swot analysis and that's how the roadmap was created. Now we know exactly what to do.
"I also need to mention about the opening of the LOC Office for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. We look to the U-17 World Cup to activate the youth; and to do that, we have the perfect combination of Mr. Joy Bhattacharya and Mr. Javier Ceppi to drive it forward," said Das.
"We have also appointed Nicolai Adam as the Head Coach of the Indian U-17 Team for the U-17 World Cup and the AIFF would be arranging for a whole lot of exposure tours for the boys," he said.