Football in India is regarded as the second most popular sport after Cricket which is the top traditional sport recognized in the country.
The love for cricket makes the sports even more preferable at the grassroots more than Football.
Today, India boost several Cricket Stadiums and infrastructure across the country.
However, this does not throw away the fact that Indians are increasingly following football in the country.
But the high priority in Cricket across India has made it difficult for young players to quickly achieve their dream career in football.
Since there are not many football activities in the grassroots as compared to other countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan etc where Football is regarded as a top sport, Indian Football is not top-notch.
Take a closer look at the India I-League which is not getting as much attention it deserves, and as such, the league isn’t as big as it is supposed to be.
One of the avenues that raised the Indian Football Scene was the successful hosting of the FIFA U-17 World Cup which surpassed China’s initial record of highest viewers.
The competition has increased the urge by young Indians to consider the sport as another way of building a career.
Although it is not easy, there has been progress so far, even though there’s no way Football will overtake Cricket to become the number one in the country as things stand currently.
This article spells out how young Indians should follow if they plan to play football professionally despite the level of the sport in the country.
1. Join an Academy
Even though football is not as popular compared to cricket in the country, there are Academies spread across the Federation.
These Academies can propel your career to a greater height. Although India is not a hub where there are abundant young talented Soccer players. But scouts always visit Academies.
Clubs in the Indian Super League and I-League also looking for players for their reserve teams.
Who knows, you could be on your way to your dream career.
2. Move to Cities with more interest in football
You know how Indians love cricket, and the over 30 states in the country have a huge following in the sport.
You go to the Cafe, the next thing you see is a live Telecast of a Test match between India and Pakistan.
But there are cities in the country where there is a high concentration of football.
Top six Indian cities with the high following in football
- West Bengal
- North East India
You should consider moving to these cities where there is a high chance of joining a club or an Academy.
Some notable clubs like Kerala Blasters, Sporting Goa, North East United are perfect examples.
Top Football Academies in India
- Premier Indian Football Academy
- Tata Football Academy
- Mumbai Regional Academy
- Kolkata Regional Academy
3. Go for trials in the aforementioned cities
These cities offer a high chance of getting a club. Since there’s a high number of professional clubs, more trials are expected to take place.
Attending trials comes with several benefits. The more trials you attend, the more likely you’re in terms of getting a club.
Also, trials give you a competitive edge over others.
4. Attend training Camps
Training camps are slightly different from the trials. Here, you get the opportunity to be trained by top experienced professional coaches hired to teach you.
Mind you, some of these camps could be paid camps. But at the grassroots level, you are not expected to spend more.
Some basic skills you could acquire in Training Camps
- A basic ball passing with technique
- Good positioning
- Perfectly timed crosses
These skills are needed in our modern-day Football. Right now, soccer is a team sport and not an individual Sport.
To become successful, you should be able to master these skills within a short time. Else you could fail to cut trials competitions.
Tip: What coaches are looking at is your ability to control the ball and what you can do with it.
5. Develop a training schedule
Success is measured by how hardworking you are. There’s a saying that people no longer work hard, but they work smart.
What do I mean? Any time you find yourself on that training pitch, always take your time to learn a new piece of skill, a technique that will make you stand out from your peers.
Coaches, scouts are always on the lookout for players with talents. You should be a good passer of the ball. You should be able to control, dictate and position yourself.
These are some of the important factors scouts expect from players.
Take a closer look at Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United, he positions himself in the midfield at all times.
You need to have a plan. Look for times that can be suitable for your training because you have to train regularly.
6. Consider group training
Group training is also good for your development as a youngster. As you train with your peers, you also get the opportunity to learn new skills from them.
Back then in college, i could learn new skills every day as a result of group training with my college mates.
7. Visit the official website of Indian football clubs
Indian football clubs are all on social media as well as a working official website. Most club does publish their activities online.
You can use such a medium to follow up with the latest as it concerns the club. You could get information about trials into their Academy.
8. Have a CV
The CV is an important document you should carry along with you. Should the need arises, you will be asked to present it.
9. Accept the challenge
Even though Cricket is a dominant sport in the country, it doesn’t rule out the fact that you can still be successful with your dreams of becoming a pro footballer.
The craze for cricket is just too much, but do not allow it to deter you from achieving your goals.
10. Be consistent
Consistency is another huge factor in achieving your dreams. Do not stop if your priority is a career in soccer, always remain committed.
11. Establish contacts with insiders
Try to establish contacts with insiders as you attend trials and training camps. These avenues are great ways to increase your exposure.
The moment you have insiders, it becomes easier for you to find places that scouts normally visit.
You could be the first to be notified of the latest information regarding grassroots activities.
12. Look for an agent
Once you’re ready, the next step is to look for an agent.
Agents are responsible for the recent money-spinning Transfers involving some of the world superstars like Virgil Van Dijk, Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and the likes.
Agents can easily help you secure clubs both at home and abroad.
Simply put, agents are links between players with or without clubs and clubs looking for players.
However, you should know the issues of fake agents and how they could end up eating your money without any meaningful progress.
Ensure the agent you’ve chosen to work with is a professional and that he works with well-known clubs within and outside the country.
The drawbacks when it comes to agents are the outrageous fees they could charge you. But it is still recommended you work with one.
13. Join Soccer organizations
There are several soccer organizations out there looking for talented players to sponsor. Although these organizations do have a percentage if you eventually sign for a club.
It is another huge step to take. Look for local or international organizations that are willing to sponsor young players.
14. Start young
To begin your career at a young age is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Even if you live in India and you are 15, 16, 17 years old, you can achieve your dreams.
Even if you are over 20-years old, you can still achieve success at an early age.
15. Go for national trials for India Junior National teams
Another great way is to attend Nationwide national team trials which are held annually.
The Nations Football governing body uses this means to select players that will represent the country at the international level.
If you are lucky to be on the train, you could get caught by a foreign team.
How can I become a Professional Footballer in India I’m 13, 16, 17, 20, 21?
This is even the best age to do so. What you should do is to look for an agent, an Academy and be consistent.
Football has no age range, but from 30 years and above it becomes difficult to achieve a professional status since clubs are ok the lookout for younger talented players out there.
The state of Football in India has made it a little bit challenging for young players to achieve their dreams in the sport.
Hopefully, this well-researched article will serve as a guide as you continue your journey towards professional status.