Wim Koevermans believes that foreign players plying their trade in the I-League must be of better quality than their Indian counterparts.
Except for Bengaluru FC, Sporting Clube de Goa (until a couple of days ago) and Shillong Lajong, most teams in the top division have changed their foreign contingent. It isn’t surprising that the stability has helped these sides and hence are amongst the top teams in the I-League ladder.
“If foreigners are really giving something to the game and teach our Indian boys, I have no problem with that. But because of the transfer dates, it happens everywhere around the world. Coaches have a chance to analyze their own team and bring in new players as they want to do. Hopefully players that they bring in are of good quality.
“I have seen some good quality foreigners coming in. At least they help others get to a better level. Of course being the national team coach, I still want a lot of Indian players to play. There are a lot of good young players. I have just had the U-22 selection camp (in Bengaluru) and ten or twelve of them are either IMG-Reliance or former Pailan Arrows and are out of a club right now. These are things that worry me because we can’t do anything about it,” he told Goal.
Koevermans highlighted how it was essential that the best young talent in the country must get a platform to perform.
“We have to make sure that we look after our young players and also give them the opportunity to play. If there is a good mix of foreign players and the Indian players, it will help to develop the game. But in the end, the more Indian players we have, I am happy as I can choose Indian players with the national team.”
On being asked whether he would recommend the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Technical Committee to reduce the number of foreign players from the current four per team, he said, “It’s all connected to a longer term. If we still we need to bring foreign players for the reason that we don’t have quality players in India, I think that’s the reason why coaches do it. It shows again that we need to work on our future players.
“The academies with clubs are vital for the future of the Indian elite players. We should really start working on an academy but also make sure that they can play good competition and we need to organize leagues with a minimum of 25-to-30 games per year with league, tournaments and cups. So the younger players are exposed to players of the highest level. So we have to bring the best with the best and against the best. If that happens, we bring much more quality young players into the I-League and then in future we need lesser foreign players. I think it will always be a mix of foreign and Indian players.”
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