Football's growth in northeast is crucial in India: Larsing

Last Updated 25 April 2014, 10:11 IST

He has teamed up with actor John Abraham to bag the Guwahati franchise in the Indian Super League and Larsing Ming Sawyan says it is of paramount importance to take football in the northeast to next level for overall development of the sport in the country.

Thanks to the success of his club Shillong Lajong FC and others like Rangdajied United and Royal Wahingdoh in I-League, the hill town has become the hub of football in the northeast ahead of traditional powerhouses like Manipur and Mizoram.

"Our aim is to take football to the next level in northeast. That will help in the overall development of the sport in India," Ming told PTI.

Lajong are currently placed fifth on the I-League standings with a round to go, while first-timers Rangdajied United have ensured that they will be very much a part of the league next season.

As the discussion turned to the much-anticipated ISL, Ming said the initiative will make the Indian football scene competitive.

"Definitely, the football scene in India will become more competitive, the ISL will help in developing infrastructure, and I think both ISL and I-League should complement each other to go to the next level," the Shillong-based entrepreneur said.

The eight-city franchise-based league's backers include some of the biggest names in Indian sport, business and Bollywood.

The league, organised by IMG-Reliance in partnership with Star and which has the backing of All India Football Federation, promises to lure a galaxy of former international stars who will be playing alongside their Indian counterparts.

Ming said, "ISL will allow the AIFF to create a healthy ecosystem. The old clubs now can't just make team for the heck of it and take things for granted. It will also bring in more professionalism."

ISL has got endorsement from top footballers and leading lights from other sports like cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, but some I-League clubs are still wary of the tournament, scheduled to be held in September-October.

Eight franchises of the high-profile ISL were unveiled earlier this month with a host of celebrities from cricketing fraternity and Bollywood emerging bid winners, and top footballers, current and past, have hailed the league which has the potential to revolutionise the game in the country.

(Published 25 April 2014, 10:10 IST)

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