Arsenal legend Robert Pires, who was part of the of Indian Super League franchise FC Goa in its inaugural season, said that the ISL – in its fifth season – has not made much progress ever since it was launched amid much fanfare in 2014.
“I think it (progress from Season one to five) is the same because you need to experiment with other footballing philosophies to strengthen the base. They need an Italian, French or maybe a Spanish or Portuguese to introduce them to other philosophies which will help the ISL to grow,” said Frenchmen Pires, now in India as a La Liga ambassador.
The 44-year-old former Arsenal player hung up his boots after a season in India and although he was critical of the way the league was run, Pires remained optimistic about the future of Indian football.
“I played in season one and there was a lot of passion among the players. I saw some good Indian talent out there.
“India has a good future ahead but they need good academies, coaching and training to move forward. The mix of all these can lead to maybe an Indian playing in La Liga one day and that sort of progress is very important for development of football,” said Pires a vital part of Arsenal’s invincibles, who won the Premier League in 2003-04 remaining unbeaten for the entire domestic league season.
A part of La Liga’s ambition to bring their football to India, Pires was mighty praised on learning that La Liga club Girona FC and Australia’s A-League club Melbourne City FC had travelled to India to play their pre-season friendly matches.
“It is a good start. Girona — I know it is not the best team in La Liga — coming and playing its season friendly against Kerala is great. It can help Indian football,” said Pires. “Get some good teams here. And if things go like this, 2-3 years down the line we can expect top sides like Barcelona and Real Madrid.”
Asked about his time in the ISL, the 1998 World Cup winning player didn’t rule out a return to the subcontinent.
“Playing for FC Goa was a great experience for me,” said Pires. But “right now I am enjoying my role as ambassador for La Liga and Arsenal, but yes if ISL needs my help I will be happy to provide my services.”
Image Source: Goal.com