In our recent episode of Dil Se Football, held on 5th July, we paid tribute to Indian Football Journalists. We had the honor of hosting eminent personalities like Mr. Arunava Chaudhuri, Pulusta Dhar, Dulal Dey, and Shibham Das.
We got a chance to ask Mr. Arunava Chaudhuri about the representation of Indian footballers in Europe. Mr. Arunava was born and brought up Germany. He has been a protagonist in Indian Media & Journalism. Former COO at MCFC, founder of Indiafootball.com, and working with clubs like Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim as well as Indian National Team have been his major accomplishments. He has been an ardent football lover since his childhood and knows a lot about European football as well. He has been a part of various media organizations in Germany and India, also working as a football consultant.
Mr. Chaudhari replied that they arranged trials for Lallianzuala Chhangte last year. Every Indian football fan was excited about him giving trials for Norwegian club, Viking FK. The club offered Chhangte a 3-year deal as well. However, the salary offered was much less than what he currently earns in ISL. Thus, the deal did not materialize.
He also told that players in India mostly come from poor family backgrounds. Thus, salary becomes the main issue while determining which club he or she will be a part of. Also, it is not easy for players to stay in Europe and adapt to the cold winters which the countries there have. So, in case the salary offered is less, the players will always have a doubt about joining European clubs.
However, he also opined that our player can surely play in 3rd divisions of top leagues with a bit of luck. But it is up to the players to decide what do they want for their career.
“We nearly had an Indian player(playing in Europe) last year. Through a friend we had organized a trial for Lallianzuala Chhangte at Viking Stavanger and the club was willing to give him a 3 year contract and went out of its way to enable the deal. But at the end of the day, the problem for Indian players is that the salary offered by ISL clubs are much higher than what they would get in Europe. I will always salute Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for going out and playing in Norway, but other players aren’t willing to do the same“ said Mr. Chaudhari.
Stints by Other Players
Arunava also stressed the importance of players like Bhaichung Bhutia, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sunil Chhetri, and women footballers like Bala Devi and Dalima Chhibber joining foreign clubs. He said that although Bhaichung Bhutia’s stint at Bury FC might not have been a great one, the experience which he got was immense. Bhaichung became much better and the impact that he had afterward for the clubs and national team was surely commendable. For Sunil Chhetri as well, the foreign stint was a roller coaster ride. There were some work permit issues due to which he couldn’t get a chance at Queens Park Rangers. Even at Sporting CP his chances were limited to their B team only. However, even he got much needed experience through training and being with the foreign players. He also told that there will be more women footballers joining foreign clubs than the men in the near future.
The stories of Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and recently that of Bala Devi and Dalima Chhibber will be an inspiration for new players, although the money would be a problem for most of the players. State associations and AIFF should step up in helping the players and their families. This will encourage players to join a club abroad. The experience which a player gets at a club abroad will be great for the development of both the player and the national team. This will help in getting better results and in turn improve the rankings of the national team.
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