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A.R. Khaleel: I-League as a product is bound to grow

AIFF Executive Committee member A.R. Khaleel

Under the chairmanship of A.R. Khaleel, the I-League is about to turn a new leaf.

Speaking exclusively to AIFF Media Khaleel, an AIFF Executive Committee member stressed on the significance of the Corporate Clubs coming into I-League, its impact, the soon-to-be-launched Bangalore Academy, the ongoing 2nd Division League in Bangalore, and much more.


The I-League is set to witness certain epoch making changes in its setup. How do you assess the developments?
I sincerely hope that the new Corporate Clubs that are going to take part in the I-League from now on will become trendsetters. For a Club to stand on its own, an Academy and an own Stadium is a bare necessity. Ironically the top clubs in our country don’t fulfill the criteria as none have their own Stadium. This has to change.
From now on it will be compulsory for a Club to have the above, and the new clubs with Corporate backing will set the tone.

What’s the latest on the Corporate teams’ front?
There are some investors who are genuinely interested. We have got very good response in the two Open House meetings held in New Delhi and Dubai. The viable option is to take land on long term lease and slowly refurbish it for building a Stadium. But as Western Indian Football Association (WIFA) and Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA) have their own Stadia, the clubs can use them as their Home Ground.

Do you believe that the process will give the I-League a pan Indian outlook?
Exactly! Football should not be confined to a few pockets. It is essential to have teams from Southern and Northern part of India too. Kerala, Karnataka Delhi stay potential States. Hailing from Bangalore, I can tell you football is very popular in this part of the country. People are starved.

Are you happy with the way second division has panned out so far?
So far the teams have had no complaints regarding Stadium or hospitality in Bangalore. All the staff at KSFA have worked very hard preparing for and after the Final Phase shifted from Madhya Pradesh. The quality competition also has been good. It goes to show how competitive our domestic league is. It has gone down to the wire.
I personally feel that in the 2nd Division League we should not have any foreign recruits playing. We can have more players for the Indian National Team in this way. The budget of an I-League team is much more and hence, you cannot leave out foreign recruits in the Premier Division. But you can obviously do without them in 2nd Division.

Where do you see the I-League in the coming years?
If all the efforts we are putting in can be realised, I see the League grow leaps and bounds in the coming years. It is going in the right direction. It’s just that the existing clubs need to cooperate. As a product I-League is bound to grow.

How do you see the Bangalore Academy shaping up?
We have already tendered a notice on March 24 for the Academy. We have a capacity of accommodating 100 people (80 trainees and 20 Coaches and other support staff). At present we will be having 30 trainees but the capacity is much more. Other AIFF activities like A, B, C, D License Courses, Seminars can also take place here.

(AIFF Press Release)