New Delhi: At a time AIFF and its commercial partner IMG-Reliance are planning to float an IPL-style football league, India skipper Sunil Chhetri Tuesday said that the sport needs to increase its glamour quotient but not at the cost of ignoring the I-League.
"I am happy with whatever I have been hearing and how it (IPL-style league) is going to happen. But I am not sure whether it is going to happen or not," Chhetri said about the IPL style tournament to be organised jointly by IMG-Reliance and the AIFF.
"For me glamourisation of football is very important but not at the cost getting away with the pool of talent we already have. It is important we should glamourise the game but we should not lose the I-league. I hope whatever is decided finally it is good for Indian football," Chettri said at a summer training camp organised by a private football entity 'Letzplay'.
The I-league clubs owners body, Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) has already made their reservation public about the tournament proposed to be held in January-March next year and decided not to release or loan their players for it. "I don't want players to be forced into a situation when they have to choose one. It's never a good thing for a player.
I think Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) and AIFF should sit together and look into it," the striker said. Chhetri sounded optimistic about India's chances of bagging the hosting rights of the 2017 Under-17 Football World Cup and sees it as an opportunity that will immensely benefit Indian football.
"I already feel that FIFA wants India to have it (hosting of U-17 World Cup). There are certain criteria we have to fulfil as a country. I am sure things will be done. It will be pity if FIFA wants it and we can't deliver. I am not even thinking we are not going to have it. It's a huge event. We can build on the legacy of the tournament and multiply it," said Chhetri.
"If and when it is announced from that day onwards every child in that age group should get a chance to be part of the Indian squad. For that there need to be so many academies, so many grassroot development programmes would be required all over the country. That should be our priority. We would want the best of our talents to represent our country," Chhetri, who played for I-League champions Churchill Brothers on loan the season gone by, said.
Chhetri feels the Under-17 World Cup will be a game changer for the country. About his future with Sporting Lisbon reserve side where he hasn't had much opportunities, Chhetri said, "I haven't decided yet but I have to go to Portugal and talk to the club officials because I have a deal with them. One more year is left in my contract. Once I am done with that I will come back here and decide."
Chhetri is guiding young kids at his home ground at Ambedkar Stadium at a summer camp organised by 'Letzplay'. "I am not here to coach these young kids. I am here to play with these talented players. The focus will be on ball work. I don't want kids to slog it out as it is not a fitness camp. "I will interact with kids about one topic a day after training. For today I have chosen nutrition and rest. My aim would be to make them enjoy these sessions," he said.