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The grassroots expert believes that a two and a half month league would work in a country like India where the standard of football hasn't yet reached a top standard...

Piet Hubers remarked that should India embark on a journey toard quality grassroot development, participation in the 2026 World Cup wouldn’t be an impossible dream to achieve.

“I think if the grassroots development takes place well, it is a realistic objective to play the 2026 FIFA World Cup. This program is not for the benefit of the Indian Super League (ISL)  happening this year, but it’s a continuous process. You should invest at least 10 years to be decent enough to compete in Asia and even in the world. For that, the development should start now,” he told on the third day of the ISL grassroots workshop held in Kolkata.

The former Dutch footballer also remarked that quality pitches and educated coaches are the basic needs to develop the game.

“Every child should have the opportunity to play either by NGO’s or in school or in a nearby field. Also, they should be trained by good coaches. By good coaches I mean who can improve children’s skills in their way. The coach has to train an 8-year old according to what he can learn at that age, and not by copying the training style of a senior player. He must read the game well, point out what’s going wrong.

“Another key aspect of coaching is to allow the children having fun. There are three components that a session must have: learn, play and having fun,” he said.

Hubers also stressed that the developmental work should not stop with the end of the program and continue in every nook and corner of the nation.

“This activity should happen every day and in every corner of the country so that we can get more and more kids interested in the game. Indian Super League (ISL) is a great vehicle to attract people and they have to create the awareness,” he opined.

He believes that the biggest need for Indian football is that of developing infrastructure in order to meet the standards in some of the top footballing nations.

“The biggest need of Indian football is that of facilities. The kids should have quality pitches to play in. In Netherlands, if you do 10 minutes of biking, you are certain to reach a football ground. That’s true for any part of the country. I know that is not possible in India, but we have to ensure a child doesn’t have to travel one and a half hours to reach a football field. There should be something inside 30 minutes of his house. We have to try to make it more reachable,” he suggested.

Talking about the increasing number of Dutch coaches in most of the top technical positions in India, Hubers stated that the Netherlands’ model would work well in the 150th ranked nation.

“I think the Dutch model should work well for India. It’s based on possession based football and that should work because (in India) there is no big target man upfront. It’s better to rely on a good build-up. But, it’s all up to India what they want to choose. But the process can’t stop because they are now experimenting with the Dutch model. Ultimately, it should depend on what the player has in his DNA,” he told.

According to him, the concept of having a three-month league may be laughable in a football developed country, but it may work in India.

“In England or Germany, I can’t think of people saying ‘okay, let’s have a break between the Premier League or Bundesliga’ and have a different league. But, it’s different in India. In those countries, football is already improved. I don’t know much about here,” he signed off.

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