In an Exclusive interview with Eelco Schattorie, IFTWC got an opportunity to discuss the idea of reducing the number of foreigners.
As a result of concerns about foreigners’ adverse impact on the development of Indian players and youth players, the AIFF has decided to reduce the number of foreigners in all teams from seven to six from the 2021-22 season. Four of these players can be included in the matchday lineup. While it may be true that reducing the number of foreigners can decrease the quality of ISL and have consequences on viewership, but on the other hand, limiting foreigners can be of huge benefit to the local footballers.
Eelco Schattorie, former Kerala Blasters and Northeast United head coach, thinks increasing the number of ISL matches is more important than reducing the number of foreigners. “It is far more important that you have more games than having three foreigners or five foreigners. This season, they played 20 games, and you had 11 teams, however, let’s say you have 15 teams. So that means you will play 28 games. With 28 games, you also have more space or ability to let players play.”
The ISL currently schedules 20 games between every team over four months. A player not participating in any AFC competition or national camp generally stays out of the game for about six months. Consequently, their fitness levels are adversely affected.
“So whether I have three, four, or five foreigners is not that relevant, more relevant is that you have more games, and the more games you have, the more time you can get. You also have to play to develop“.
On reduction of the number of foreigners in ISL, a possible consequence may be a decrease in quality. Eelco Schattorie said, “As a small detail, lesser foreigners means more Indians can play, but when fewer foreigners play, the level goes down and India is still at a stage where the level has to go up first.”
Additionally, he said that for Indian football, two things are crucial at this point of time. The first is increasing the number of youth academies and the second is playing more games.
“The level goes up by two things. Having more youth development at each club and having youth academies in each club- that is one of the most important things and the second is playing more games.“
“The more games are like in school- you have to do homework and then give tests. If you don’t get to give tests, you cannot prove yourself and you can compare this to having more games. The more you give tests, the more you play games, the more you develop. That’s how I see it“. Currently in India, only few top division clubs have active academies. – Eelco Schattorie Concluded