Indian football team skipper Sunil Chhetri hopes the ongoing tussle between the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) and the AIFF, and its commercial partner IMG-Reliance, over a franchise-based league will resolve quickly.
The IPFCA had recently announced its decision to not allow any player who features in the IPL-style competition to participate in the 2013-14 I-League.
Chhetri, however, expressed his disagreement with this ruling. “I don’t feel good about it, at all. I don’t want any criteria where a player is forced to choose one. That’s the worst thing. Thankfully, I can choose and wait. But not a lot of players can do so. It’s not nice. It has to be resolved. I don’t blame the players, AIFF or IMG-R.”
Chhetri added that the glamourisation of football in the country was important, but not at the cost of I-League.
When questioned on his plans for next season, the striker said he will return to Sporting Clube de Portugal B soon as he still has a year left on his contract with the team.
Chhetri also expressed optimism on India’s chances of earning the right to host the 2017 FIFA under-17 World Cup. “I think FIFA wants India to have it. There are just some criteria that we have to follow as a country. It’ll be a pity if FIFA wants it and we can’t deliver. It’s a huge event. I’m sure the government is taking keen interest now.
“I’m also trying to have some tests on my body and make myself 17. So, I can participate,” joked Chhetri.
The 28-year-old is currently involved in a week-long football summer camp for kids, an initiative by Letz Play FC along with the support of Delhi Soccer Association. Chhetri intends to give the children technical assistance and also speak on different topics. Five coaches will assist the Indian team skipper during the camp.
“Letz Play first came up with an idea of opening an academy. I told them how difficult it is to run one and start with coaching camps. They came back after a month and took care of my specifications. My pre-season training starts today with kids,” said Chhetri. The 28-year-old specifically insisted on the availability of kits, nutrition and clean water for the children.
The striker will also speak to the kids’ parents at the camp as he believes that their support makes a huge difference to the youngsters’ confidence.
Going forward, Chhetri hopes Letz Play will keep track of the participating children and hold such camps regularly.