Premier League legend and former Scotland international footballer Paul Dickov, who played for a number of clubs including Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City, said he admired the growth of Indian football over the past five years, adding that football sports Development Limited’s (FSDL) partnership with the English Premier League has played an important role in the growth of the sport in India.
Dickov was in India As part of the PL30 celebrations, celebrating 30 years of the Premier League, he said the quality and knowledge within Indian football had improved each time he visited the country. Dickov said the federation’s efforts to grow Indian football are widely visible.
“You can see it for yourself, the improvement. The teams are getting better [as well as] individual players. He said: I think when you get them and collect the Premier League, it can only help improve Indian football as a whole. “I know the Premier League is looking forward to doing the next generation trophy, which is great because it will give international experience to the young players who are there as well. It’s all about progression. The more progress there is, the bigger Indian football will be.”
The FSDL-Premier League collaboration has seen various initiatives launched in India to grow the game. This included programs to develop the skills of coaches, referees and players within the system. In June this year, the project hosted the Next Generation Cup 2022 in England, which saw youth teams from ISL’s Bengaluru and Kerala Blasters clubs clash with the academies of top English clubs and finish fourth in their groups.
Dickov has visited India several times in recent years as Manchester City’s representative for football events in India, and has also worked for Indian TV studios as an analyst. Dickov expressed in his interview that he learned about the passion for the Premier League in India through Manchester City’s collaboration with Mumbai City FC. He noted that football fans in India have always seemed aware and said that they will play a huge role in influencing the quality of football on the field.
“The fans have a huge influence on the players on the field. It’s easier for the fans to be supportive when things are going well, but when things are not going well, the fans can really push you. Some people think that players nowadays don’t pay attention to the fans But I can assure you that they do. They appreciate the support, and they really appreciate you pushing it forward.”
This season saw the ISL fans return in full force after two years. Average crowd attendance numbers so far this season place the ISL among the most watched leagues in Asia. After the sixth match, defending champions Hyderabad lead the group with 16 points, four points ahead of Mumbai City in second place. With the new weekend fixture format in full flow, teams have been able to keep the intensity up week after week and provide entertaining games for fans on a regular basis. Eighty-four goals have been scored so far this season.
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