Category Archives: I-league

Winners of Football Players’ Association of India [FPAI] Awards

FPAI, IndianFootball, Soccer, India, Football, I-league, Soccer, Darryl Duffy, Alwyn George, Balwant Singh, Jose Ramires Barretto, Boithang Haokip, Dempo, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers, Brazil, Scotland, Shillong Lajong, Churchill BrothersMcDowell’s No.1 Indian Football Awards by the Football Players’ Association of India [FPAI] was given out yesterday in a function at Kolkata. West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan and former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly were the chief guests for the occasion.

The winners of the awards are as follows :

Lifetime Achievement: P.K. Banerjee

Young Player of the Year: Alwyn George (Dempo)

Foreign Player of the Year: Darryl Duffy (Salgaocar)

Football ka No.1 Spirit: Jose Ramirez Barreto

Fans’ Player of the Year: Boithang Haokip (Shillong Lajong FC)

Coach of the Year: Ashley Westwood (Bengaluru FC, Absent)

Indian Footballer of the Year: Balwant Singh (Churchill)

I-League Bangalored!

Even though the term Bangalored has a negative connotation to it, when you see what unfolded in the 2013-2014 I-league season, it is pretty much obvious that Bengaluru FC Bangalored the I-league title. Since its inception in 2007, I-league has been synonymous to the victory of Goan clubs. In 2013-14 season, Bengaluru FC smoothly captured the reigns and brought the title home!

Bengaluru FC, I-league, Indianfootball, Bangalore, Football, SoccerWhen Bengaluru FC backed by JSW was announced in July 2013, two tasks were in front of them. Of course building competitive team would have been the first priority, but the second wouldn’t have been that easy. Bangalore is a football loving city, when local clubs like ITI and HAL play, a good number of crowd is present in the stadium cheering these teams. The  challenge in front of the newly formed Bengaluru FC would have been to appease the traditional football crowd and attract a new gamut of crowd who are mainly followers of European football. With 23 matches into the league and the title in pocket, it is obvious that Bengaluru FC managed this fete with aplomb. With promotions, smart tie-ups and social media presence, the club managed an average attendance of 7500 in every home match.

The team, captained by national captain Sunil Chhetri also lived up to the expectations. When the club was formed in July, there were not many players to choose from as other clubs had already snapped up players. However, shrewd recruitment and excellent coaching from Ashley Westwood saw many players who were earlier bench-warming with other clubs rise to the occasion.  Players like Beikhokhei Beingaichho, Darren Caldeira and Thoi Singh are prime examples. While all other I-league clubs hired and fired overseas players all through the season, Bengaluru FC’s foreign contingent has been top performers for the team.

With high attendance on even week-days, Bengaluru FC with their vociferous supporters madeBengaluru FC, Crowd, Indianfootball, Soccer, I-league, Football, JSW, Jindal, Steelmen the home turf an impregnable fortress.  Of the twelve home matches, they lost a match, drew four and won all others. Though there were frailties in away matches, the team managed to rope in victories while traveling too. With winning the I-league title, AFC Champions League matches will be on cards for Bangalore.

Bengaluru FC has been a fresh whiff of air in the otherwise morose footballing scene in India. It is almost like after the team was formed they never put a foot wrong. Let us hope Bengaluru FC’s success is emulated by other I-league clubs by reinventing themselves.

Bengaluru FC’s Long road to I-league 2013-14 title

Bengaluru FC, Indianfootball, I-league, Football, Soccer, league, Bangalore, Matches, JSW, Jindal, Steel, Sunil Chhetri, Ashley Westwood, Pradhyum Reddy

Kerala based SEPT to unveil Professional Football Club on May 4th

SEPT, Kozhikode, Football, Kerala, Indianfootball, Soccer, Al-Ahli, Proffesional, Club


We had earlier reported that Kerala based Sports Education and Promotion Trust [SEPT] will be launching a professional football club. It is official that SEPT will be unveiling  their professional football club on May 4th in Kozhikode.

SEPT, Sports, Football, Kerala, Indianfootball, Academy, Soccer, Professional Club, Kozhikode

Bengaluru FC are the I-League Champions

In an evenly contested match in Goa, Bengaluru FC outplayed Goan giants Dempo SC to become the champions of I-league. Considering this is the very first season for Bengaluru FC in I-league makes it even more special. I-League, since its inception in 2007 has never seen a champion other than Goan teams. Bengaluru FC has broken the monopoly of Goan teams in the league.

Many thanks to awesome matches and atmosphere at the Bangalore Football stadium. More over, hearty Congratulations to the crew at Bengaluru FC!

bengaluru fc, indianfootball, ileague, Bangalore, Football, Dempo SC, 2014, 2013-2014. Sunil Chhetri, India, Football, Soccer

Network 18’s All India Football Championship – LIFE

network 18, Football, Life, All India Football Championship, Abhishek Yadav, Venkatesh, India, Football, Soccer, indianFootballLeague India Football Experience (LIFE) is an initiative by Network 18 for college students. Here is a video which charts out the plans from Network 18.  It also includes snippets from former India Striker Abhishek Yadav and Former Indian Captain Shangmugham venkatesh.

Tiki-Taka with Stevie Grieve

Stevie Grieve, Coach Education, Baichung Bhutia Football Schools, Garhwal FC, Football, Delhi, Interview, Scotland, Coaching, 2nd Division I-league, Dhanbad, Gangtok

We recently caught up with Stevie Grieve – Head of Coach Education at Baichung Bhutia Football Schools and the Assistant Manager of Garhwal FC to talk about various topics ranging from his experience in India, the level of coaching and infrastructure in the country and the kind of talent he comes across in the country.


You have been here in India for more than 6 months, apart from the football scene, what do you like about India and what do you find challenging?

I like the enthusiasm towards getting better, most of the time I will be working to develop the coach education programs for BB Football Schools. And in this short period of time there is a massive improvement. That for me is a really pleasing thing.

The cultural mentality is a bit challenging. You have an hierarchy system – ‘I am better than you because I have this job and I am better than you because of that’ and so on. The challenge then is to get people to think differently.

Before the stint in India you have coached in Switzerland, and USA, how easy was it for you to choose India as your next destination?

Anurag, who is the boss, one of the bosses in fact, emailed me about my books and at the same time, we were talking about the possibility of working  in India. I was talking to couple more of people as well. I could have gone to Japan and other countries but I liked Anurag’s vision, what he wanted to achieve over the short term and long term, and I was enthused with what he wanted me to do. I trusted them, their idea for the future, and I am excited to be a part of it.

Now, coming to football…How is your assignment with Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools panning out? What are the main areas you look in to as a chief coach in BB Schools?

Most of my time is spent developing the coaches. For example, we have field trainings Stevie Grieve, Coach Education, Baichung Bhutia Football Schools, Garhwal FC, Football, Delhi, Interview, Scotland, Coaching, 2nd Division I-league, Dhanbad, Gangtok everyday across multiple locations in Delhi, my job would be to go and monitor the sessions, ask questions to the coaches, look at the session plans and provide feedback on things that could appear in the session or make slight alterations to the practices, check how the trainings are organized, talk to them about how to make it more challenging or easy etc.

I try to get the coach as much help and information and work with them in separate training sessions. I took a session today on footwork and combination which developed into a counter attacking session, which was quite good.

Most of my time is spent mentoring the coaches but I do coach certain teams as the assistant coach, and on the game day I help the team coach with tactics etc as I am the BBFS Head Coach, so I am pretty much an auxiliary assistant coach at sessions & matches, there to provide some guidance and help the lead coach perform their work better.

I have also made a 3 stage coach education program to work in ‘The BBFS Way’ which we have just started our 1st level 1 course with 24 coaches, which has been received brilliantly.

How was the experience of taking Garhwal FC to the 2nd Div league? How do you assess your team’s performance in the 2nd div league?

I think the 2nd div league could be a lot better organized.  They could have done it on a football pitch than on a cricket pitch! Organizational wise, I don’t think Dhanbad was a suitable venue for a football tournament, especially with the high pollution and lack of quality training venues. Gangtok may be fine as it’s a football area but im not sure Dhanbad is.

From a coaching point of view, Garhwal’s performance was fantastic. We were written off by the leading sources in Indian Football initially, probably quite fairly, to be honest. We have not achieved anything so far with Garhwal FC in professional football, it was last season we won the Delhi Senior League and this season we were 30 seconds from winning the league again, but have no history in National Level Pro Football.

The media predictions were used as a source of motivation and performance wise we were excellent in the 3 games we won. In the games we lost, the Wahingdoh match was a shocker and the conditions for the Kalighat game was very bad, especially for a team who play possession football – The field was almost a swamp! In the other matches, we did put on a good show with our exciting style of play and emerged 3rd best in that group which was deserved.

Everybody is quite happy and across the country we deserve some appreciation because not every year does a new club join a league and have the relative success that we had with a 60% wins ratio, with an average of 2 goals a game.

Infrastructure is an area that gets talked about a lot when we talk about football in India. What is your opinion about what you have seen so far in India?

In terms of developing sporting infrastructure, India is a nation where temperatures soar really high, if you see Europe there are indoor facilities that help beating the cold. India could focus on creating more indoor venues, where other version of the game like Futsal could also be played.  We also need to invest on 4g astro-turfs as its better for players to play on flat fields than on bumpy grounds.

If that is not possible, we need to have good education for groundsmen. For example, BBFS hire fields for our BBFS sessions, when you arrive there you see a groundsman standing with a hose, full flow on the same patch for hours, before its about to be used! So the field gets damaged because of that so we need to educate people who can create or maintain grass facilities.

Are Astro turfs good for players?

Stevie Grieve, Coach Education, Baichung Bhutia Football Schools, Garhwal FC, Football, Delhi, Interview, Scotland, Coaching, 2nd Division I-league, Dhanbad, Gangtok I think we need to have more astro turfs. It is hard to grow grass, in some parts of the country. I have only been to Jharkhand, Delhi and Chandigarh, so I really can’t comment about the whole country. In a country where it is difficult to maintain facilities, including educating grounds-keepers and also considering the weather, laying 3 or 4 G astro-turfs is a more feasible possibility as they are easy to maintain and would last longer.  You get better quality out of that surface unlike a bouncy, wobbly natural surface. You can coach as much of technique on an astro turf, it is much easier.  I think in long term to develop technique and an attractive playing style, we need to have good astro-turfs.

Do you follow I-league? If so, what is your opinion on the standards of I-league? What could be the areas the league could look to improve?

Yes, I do follow some matches. But I cannot claim that I pay full attention to the league. I know that the Scottish player Darryl Duffy has done quite well in the league.  The matches I have seen, I would say probably not much of tactics are involved. The matches are direct,  straight and is pretty easy to predict what is going on, mainly due to the technical level of the players. In the matches that I have watched, I haven’t seen a coach shifting from a 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, to get the team attack from the middle, to attack specific areas via making diagonal attacks from center and so on.

At Garwhal FC, we worked on attacking/defending specific areas in the 2nd div league and that got us 3 wins. It doesn’t look like it happens in the I-league and it baffles me when I watch the games, the lack of tactical awareness in the matches. Im not trying to be disrespectful to anyone, but the results of seeing the games leads me to this opinion.

I also think there is not many young Indian players playing. I haven’t noticed many. I think there is an over emphasis on big, strong powerful players and that means you have a lot Africans, particularly from Nigeria. Watched Odafa the other day, I believe he is the highest paid in India but he was not of the standard of a good British semi-professional footballer on that day.

So I take from the games I have watched of him, that we are wasting a lot of money on players who are not possibly so good for the money you pay them – you wouldn’t pay a shop assistant 3 lakh per month! So the money needs to be spent better on the players who provide quality.

We need to start identifying better players and also implement a coaching philosophy and stick to it. For the money the clubs spend today, on some players, you could get 3 good players from Spain. It is also not that all the players are bad, but an infusion of little bit of tactical nous could improve the league for better, and unearth some of the talent that exists in India.

India is slated to host the 2017 U-17 WC. As a coach who is involved in grassroots football, what do you make out of Indian Youngsters and where do they need to improve?

The first aspect that we need to look at, is to improve the level of technique. To do that, we need to improve coaches who can teach technique. That is what we do at BBFS and Garwhal FC. But despite the lack of proper coaching, there are good players in the country. I see so many special talents in this country. For example, Garwhal FC played Minlun Tunglung, who is just 16,in the 2nd div league. He was the best player on the pitch in the last game. So, there will be special talents across the nation, the difficult part is to find them and nurture them by providing good coaching facilities. With better coach education and talent identification (if the correct age) there is a good possibility that India will make a rapid rise in the FIFA Rankings in 10 years.

What opinion do you have about the levels of coaching in the country? How integral is it to provide good education to coaches for the development of football?

Massive! Massive!

Take Japan for example. Twenty years ago, they would have been around 150 in the FIFA rankings (where India are now). They invested massively in grassroots coach education,which then developed into professional youth coach education and so on. This greatly helped the J-League and Japan’s football.

Stevie Grieve, Coach Education, Baichung Bhutia Football Schools, Garhwal FC, Football, Delhi, Interview, Scotland, Coaching, 2nd Division I-league, Dhanbad, Gangtok If India could devise a coach education pathway of its own, apart from the AFC A, B, C licenses that are the current norm, it would bring about massive changes. For a country of India’s size, it should have a National coaching pathway which is tailored to Indian conditions. I believe, this can bring about drastic changes in coaching quality which improves the talent output.

You have also authored quite a few books. A book on Sergio Busquets, another one on 4-2-3-1 formation. What is your inspiration to author so much? Can we expect a book on your experience India in some time?

If I make it big and write an autobiography, there will be quite a few pages dedicated to India! It’s been a great experience and I’ve seen and done some things that will stay with me for life.

Now, some personal questions – Do you have any favorite teams in World Football?

St. Johnstone F.C. , it is a small Scottish Club. Clubs that I love to watch are Arsenal, Dortmund, Barcelona, Roma and Bayern Munich.

Apart from Football and authoring, do you pursue any other interests?

I like to go to see music concerts, play poker, normal stuff! This week I will be watching Wolfmother at the Hard Rock Cafe. Otherwise, I am happy to visit museums, QutubMinar and other touristy places. Im also learning Spanish, Russian and Italian, which I enjoy doing.

So Stevie, few words on Football News India. You follow us on Twitter. Are we able to cater a regular dose of football news from India?

It is good,I think it is the best one I have seen on the internet for Indian Football. It is unbiased, it is informative and gives you up-to-date information. So, well played! Good one there!

Third Edition of O Jogo Bonito (OJB) Country’s Biggest Amateur Football League

DZRE1344O Jogo Bonito aka OJB is  India’s biggest amateur football league promoted by Bulldog Sports Ventures. Football tournaments are conducted every quarter in a calendar year. The players of this tourney comprise of working professionals, students, businessmen who are united for the common cause of football.

After two successful seasons of OJBm the O Jogo Bonito , Kochi, Football, Bulldog Sports Ventures, Amateur, Soccer, India, Mammootythird edition took place in the last week of February 2014. It was bigger than ever with close to 180 registered players 12 teams battling it out for glory in the “Flood Lit Stadium” experience .

Here are few pictures from the tournament that took place in Kochi.

O Jogo Bonito , Kochi, Football, Bulldog Sports Ventures, Amateur, Soccer, India, Mammooty

Kerala based SEPT to form a professional club

SEPT, tSEPT, Kozhikode, Football, Kerala, Indianfootball, Soccer, Al-Ahli, Proffesional, Clubhe Kerala based academy that trains around 2000 kids all over Kerala through their 17 centers across the state is planning to form a professional club.

With this the SEPT trust will transform into a company that field teams in the professional leagues of the country. SEPT, involved in grassroots football development for over a decade has the necessary background to graduate their efforts to a professional club.

SEPT recently  signed a collaboration agreement with the UAE club Al-Ahli. They have already fielded a team in Kozhikode “E” Division league in 2014 and are the winners, there by earning a promotion to the “D” division. A website has gone live and we get to know that  ONGC and Faizal & Shabana Foundation are the sponsors of the club.

More news in the coming days….

AIFF’s Player Registration Mechanism will Kick-in from Next Season

500px-India_FA.svgIf reports in Malayalam media is anything to go by, AIFF’s controversial player registration scheme will kick-in from next season.

It is reported that Kerala Football Association has notified state clubs to register their players through an online system. Clubs will have shell out 100 INR for each player they are registering. The new system allows clubs to register as many players as they want. Clubs can also register Sub-Junior players as part of the new system. Currently a club can only register 30 players.

Kerala Football Association will also conduct workshops in each district to create awareness on the new system that will be kicking in from next season.  Player registration scheme from AIFF had earlier received flak from state associations and there was resistance from the associations to implement the scheme. The reduction of registration fee from what was touted earlier is to be seen as a move to placate the state associations.

Depending upon a grading system, clubs will have to shell out money to register their players. I-league clubs will have to shell out 10,000 INR for Indian players and  15,000 INR for foreign players.

While this a good initiative from AIFF as the registration system would allow them to create a database of active footballers across the nation, it should also be kept in mind that remuneration for a match in many of the district leagues would be as low as the registration fee that is being currently implemented.

Kolkata’s United SC Seeking Investment from Kerala

United SC, Kolkata, Football, India, IMG - Reliance, Indian Super League, ISL, Players LoanCash strapped United SC is planning to divest shares and is looking for potential suitors from Kerala, reports Malayalam media.

United SC official Nabab Bhattacharya is quoted in Malayala Manorama  saying that maintaining a foreign coach and foreign players for the last six months without any sponsors has hurt the club massively and hence they are planning to divest shares. Nabab also said that even though there are many footballers in Kerala with some playing in I-league, the state do not have a club representation in the national league. This is also a factor in seeking avenues from Kerala.

C.K Vineeth who is currently on loan to Bengaluru FC and K. Asif were the Malayali players in United SC. Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie quit the club earlier due to financial constraints and reports have surfaced today that their star Nigerian striker Ranti Martins will be moving to the Shillong outfit Rangdajied United on loan.

The move to seek investors from Kerala could be a last ditch effort to save the sinking club. We will have to wait and watch if any investors from kerala would come and rescue this reasonably successful and established club from Kolkata. If that happens would the club move to Kerala lock, stock and barrel? We will soon find answers.

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