Ashique Kuruniyan – Setbacks & injuries helps you learn many things


In a candid and exclusive conversation with IFTWC, Ashique Kuruniyan, the dynamic Indian footballer, delved into various facets of his journey, particularly addressing his recent setback due to injury. Having been sidelined for the past eight months, Kuruniyan opened up about the challenges, both physical and mental, he encountered during his rehabilitation process. Reflecting on the significance of youth development in Indian football, he also shared insights from his own experiences, emphasizing the need for nurturing young talents to propel the sport’s growth in the country.

Ashique Kuruniyan - Setbacks and injuries helps you to learn many things in life

Furthermore, Kuruniyan also shed light on the evolving landscape of Indian football, underscoring the crucial role played by the Indian Super League in providing a platform for players to showcase their skills and contribute to the development of the sport at both domestic and international levels. With his perspective shaped by first-hand experiences, Kuruniyan’s discourse offers valuable insights into the intricacies of football in India and the journey of a professional athlete navigating through their biggest challenge, the body.

On how tough it was to overcome the injury setback

For Ashique Kuruniyan, the mental toll of enduring a prolonged setback due to injury was undeniably formidable. In his own words, he acknowledges the inevitability of such challenges in football, viewing them as part and parcel of the journey. Ashique added, ‘It’s normal in football. You have to experience it. Then you will learn many more things. How to be calm. How to get back to the field as soon as possible. How you can be fit while you are out of the field all these. It’s a learning process for me.’

Through this adversity, he discovered the importance of maintaining composure, cultivating patience, and focusing on the journey rather than fixating on the destination. Each day became a lesson in perseverance, teaching him to channel his energies into his rehabilitation and to find solace in the gradual progress toward recovery.

On the performance of the Indian National Team

Ashique added, ‘We still have a chance if we win two matches. We are still second in the group. Two teams will qualify. We have big hopes. If they win, we will qualify for the national team.’

Despite the football that Igor Stimac’s men have played in recent times, Ashique Kuruniyan remains resolutely optimistic about the prospects of his team’s advancement. With two crucial matches remaining, and their position in the group standings, they must win the games in hand to at least have a chance. Sitting in second place within the group, Kuruniyan and his team understand that their fate still hangs in the balance, with the opportunity to secure one of the coveted spots for qualification.

Kuruniyan’s perspective on youth development

Ashique also emphasized the importance of investing in youth development within Indian football. He articulated that investment transcends merely financial contributions; it entails providing top-notch training facilities, particularly high-quality pitches tailored for practice sessions. Kuruniyan underscores the necessity of experienced coaches, preferably those with successful track records in European or other prominent footballing contexts, especially in nurturing young talents within academy setups.

These seasoned mentors possess the expertise and knowledge to hone the skills of budding players, preparing them for the rigors of professional football at both domestic and international levels.


He added, ‘We have to invest in youth. Invest means we need good pitches for training, not for matches. For training, we need good pitches. We need good experienced coaches like those who did well in Europe or somewhere with academy boys. We need coaches like that who bring academy players to the national team with good quality.’

Kuruniyan on Indian players moving overseas for opportunities

Ashique Kuruniyan provides insightful commentary on the contrasting perceptions of youth in Indian football compared to European standards. He highlights the discrepancy in age expectations, noting that in India, players in their mid-20s are often still considered young, whereas in Europe, youth is synonymous with teenagers as young as 15 or 16.

Kuruniyan underscores the significance of early development and exposure to competitive football at a young age, citing examples of prodigious talents making waves in European leagues and prestigious competitions like the UEFA Champions League while still in their mid-teens. He stresses the advantage of starting football training and competitive play at an early age, enabling players to mature and hone their skills gradually.

Ashique Kuruniyan - Setbacks & injuries helps you learn many things KUNA5866 1.jpg

He added, ‘Because maybe when we start football, we start when we are 15 or 16. Maybe when we mature, we will become 24 or 25. So even if you are 25, or 24 in ISL or India, normally everyone used to say it’s a young player. But when you go to Europe, a young player means 16 or 15. Now a few players are playing Champions League or playing for Barcelona.

They are just 16 and 15. So that’s different. If we get mature when we are 15, 16 and then we can go to Europe and can play. When we become 20, we will become more better. But if you start when you are 20, 22, it’s not possible.’

On foreign players taking important roles in attacking positions

Ashique Kuruniyan sheds light on the dynamics of team composition and player utilization in the Indian Super League, particularly in the context of foreign players occupying striker positions. He advocates for a more balanced approach that ensures opportunities for Indian strikers to showcase their talents on the field. Kuruniyan recognizes the competitive nature of the league, where every team aspires to emerge victorious, often leaning towards utilizing foreign players in key positions, including the striker role.


However, he suggests the implementation of rules or guidelines that mandate the inclusion of Indian strikers in team line-ups, albeit acknowledging the challenges associated with such regulations. Alternatively, Kuruniyan proposes a more feasible solution wherein clubs commit to allocating significant playing time, perhaps 30 to 40 minutes, to Indian strikers during matches. This approach not only fosters the development and exposure of homegrown talent but also ensures a more balanced representation within teams.

He added, ‘Normally in ISL every team wants to win. So normally they use foreign players in striker positions. I feel like we must have rules like at least one Indian striker should play. But that’s difficult. It’s very difficult. So otherwise every club can give at least 30, 40 minutes for an Indian striker. That will also be better.’

Follow IFTWC for more updates on Indian football.

Ishayu Gupta
Ishayu Gupta
Mohun Bagan, Madrid and more!

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