The Frenchman believes the quality of the pitches and coaches will provide a real boost to playing in the ISL, while also believing he can help the grassroots program...
Robert Pires’ inclusion into the marquee pool of the Indian Super League (ISL), a brainchild of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and their marketing partners IMG-Reliance, has raised the global profile of Indian football even further after the additions of renowned players such as Freddie Ljunberg and Mikael Silvestre.
The former Premier League and FA Cup winner with Arsenal has now stated that he hopes the ISL will the final frontier as far as challenges go in the 40 year-old’s career.
“I wanted one final playing challenge in my career. I have played in France, England and Spain, why not try a place where we can make a real difference and experience a new country,” replied Pires confidently, to The Times OF India, on being asked why he chose the ISL.
Quizzed on his knowledge of Indian football before joining up for the ISL, Pires expounded, “To be honest not a lot, although Bhaichung Bhutia had played in a charity match I attended. I know India for its cricket, not football!”
“My manager and I were approached a few years ago by IMG about being involved in the league as a player and ambassador and the thought of playing in a new country and playing in a new league that could support the growth of football was very exciting,” elucidated Pires, when asked how he was targeted to participate in the ISL.
Questioned as what he believed would be the impact of the ISL on the spectre of Indian football, Pires opined, “Yes, very much. The marquee players will of course raise interest but will also be able to educate the other players and add huge value to grassroot programmes. Look at the success of the IPL cricket as an example.”
“It will be a challenge but the pitches will be of good quality and international coaches will help the technical side. Off the pitch, I want to see as much of the country as I can,” replied Pires when asked if after playing in stellar European leagues, India posed a significant challenge in terms of playing.
Pires confirmed he’d been training with Arsenal for the ISL, adding, “Yes. I am very lucky that Arsene Wenger lets me train with the first team for the last few years. It's great to challenge yourself against the best players around.”