It is not just about having coaching classes
People in Goa, Kolkata and Kerala have always been enthusiastic about the game. It is only in the last few years that India has woken up to craze of football as today everybody is well connected to what is happening in the world. There are many people who follow the Spanish, English, Portuguese and Italian leagues. Especially in Goa, we have fans of the Portuguese league. It might be also be because of the Indian Super League which is likely to come up. The news is spreading and there are great plans coming up. With renowned cricketers such as Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar starting football coaching clubs, it is a very good sign for football in India. For India to have a world-class team, it can only happen provided we do what really needs to be done. Building up a game in a country it is not just about having coaching clubs. There are solutions and we have great talent, which we will have to groom from a young age. Today, youngsters between 10 and 12 years of age are crazy about football. But after they pass Class XII, they loose their interest and get into making their careers. Football is a contact game and we need international level of coaching academies.
Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, former India player and administrator of SESA Football Academy
In 15-20 years we will have international presence
The coverage of football leagues such as Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga and Italy's Serie A have increased since the last World Cup. This has definitely contributed to the excitement around this year's world cup. People are curious to know about how their favourite club players are doing in the game. Apart from that, the positive change in the Indian football league (I League) has also contributed equally. We now have foreign players coming in and the overall quality of the league as gone up a few notches. If the administrators and football associations make necessary changes to the infrastructure, then within 15 to 20 years, we will surely see Indian football presence at International level.
Mandar Tamhane, former manager of the Indian football team
Social Media will help building mass support
India's presence at international events is definitely a dream, but it can be surely be achieved if proper planning is done right from the grassroots level. Moreover, if the interest shown by people can be converted into actual participation, it will be fruitful for the game by increasing interest amongst the general public. A good coverage by the media also helps in building mass support. People now know about the teams and the players because of social media and due to India-specific programmes that many top European clubs have initiated in the last one to two years.
Soham Kulkarni, Chelsea FC fan
Even non followers are glued to the game this time
The World Cup is arguably the biggest sporting event and Indians don't want to be left behind. The Craze is double this time, thanks to the wide reach of the social media. Moreover, apart from the usual football fanatics, even the non-followers want to keep a tab—be it to appear cool or just out of curiosity. The fact is everyone wants to follow the game. India's presence at International tournaments, in all reality, will remain a dream for some more years to come. Every football fan wishes to support his home country on the grandest stage and so do we. Will it ever happen? That's a hope we all live with.
Akshay Lulla, Manchester United fan
The dream is surely achievable
Soccer being a glamorous sport and due to its global reach has surely caught the eye of the Indian youth. Thanks to the various International soccer clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United, who have setup academies in India, the sport is developing professionally and rapidly. The Indian youth have a sense of pride in being associated with any such club. Also, soccer stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have become role models for the Indian youth. People are excited about the World Cup to see these stars compete for their respective countries. The Soccer World Cup has now become a mega event, not only in India but also globally. Talking about the Indian team competing internationally, I think we are making good progress. As the football leagues in India gets more professional with involvement of international professionals and coaches, the performance will surely get better. With this rate of progress, I am very optimistic to see our Indian team competing in the next World cup as well as in other international events. This dream is surely achievable.
Vipul Lunawat, Director, Institute of Sports Science & Technology
Youngsters fail to see sports as a career
The young crowd in India is aware of what is happening around the world, even in the global sports arena. Football is a very popular sports which is played by many countries, whereas cricket is just a 10-nation sport. Unfortunately in India, football is not that much popular. Everywhere in the world, young people are hooked on to the game. It is difficult to say how long India will take to catch up with international football scene, but with proper grassroot and youth development programmes, yes we can. It is not difficult but it will take time. Youngsters are enthusiastic about football but they don't pursue it at a career. However, this is not only the case with football but with every other sport in the country. May be our society fails to see sports as a career.
Kushal Das, general secretary, All India Football Federation (AIFF)