Bhutia for more Indians in playing XI, more teams in Indian Super League

Mumbai, Apr 26: Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said here that the Football Players Association of India has asked IMG-Reliance to increase the home grown players to six from the current five in the starting eleven of the Indian Super League.

The former FPAI president also said here that the association wanted the ISL to increase the teams from the present eight by “one or two teams”, at the FPAI’s annual awards function at the Cooperage banquet hall last night.

“We want to work with the ISL and I-League. We want more and more teams to join the I-League and ISL. With this, the two competitions will get stronger. We need more teams so that more players get chances,” he said.

“We have (also) requested for six Indians in the ISL (against the current norm of five) in the starting eleven,” said the former Sikkimese striker with several current footballers, including foreign ones of the I-League sitting in the audience and lapping up his words.

FPAI’s vice-president and former India international Abhishek Yadav said the association was striving hard for the betterment of the lot of players including providing them an easier pathway to earn the coaches’ norms and medical insurance.

“We have also decided to start a rehabilitation centre to counsel the footballers who get injured and are frustrated that they are unable to play. We are trying our best but there s always scope for improvement,” he said.

“We will also help footballers who want to start coaching camps in their home towns. We do a lot of work but we also have our own set of problems, but we are trying to improve every year,” he added.

Bengaluru FC’s English coach Ashley Westwood, who was nominated as the winner of the best coaches’ award at the function, said he has seen a lot of interest in football in India over the last three years he has been present in the country.

“I have seen many improvements. It’s not only cricket now. Professional football is rising. That will help Indian football,” he said.

Later at a press conference, Westwood sounded cautious about his chances of continuing in his present position with the I-League team in the Garden City.