‘Strong Domestic League Vital for Indian Football’

Galbraith emphasised the need for foreign exposure, bridging the quality gap with Asian teams, more competitive domestic leagues, and ISL reforms…reports Asian Lite News

Women in Sports is conducting an Elite Women’s Trials in Bangalore. Building on the success of previous trials, which secured international club contracts for five footballers, this 15-day trial aims to offer the same opportunity to a new group of players already representing India internationally.

Indian women footballers like Bala Devi, Soumya Guguloth, Sangita Basfore, Sowmiya, R. Sandhiya, Sonali Chemate, Michel Castanha, Sibani Devi, Rivka Ramji, Karishma Shirvoikar, Kaviya P. and many more who have flourished at the national and International level are participating in the trials.

Australia’s Andrew Galbraith from the Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA) is the head coach overseeing the trials.

In an exclusive conversation, Galbraith on Wednesday discussed the importance of foreign exposure, how to bridge the quality gap between India and other Asian countries, the need for more competitive domestic leagues and changes required in the ISL. Excerpts:

You’re training with the best and the brightest of our country when it comes to women’s football so how has the overall experience been like?

Ans. The overall experience has been fantastic, it’s nothing but positive to say about the environment. It’s been good, the girls have put in really fantastic efforts. I asked them to up the intensity in training this week, to try and move to the next level because I wanted to be able to test their skills under pressure, not just in a relaxed environment. And they’ve done that. They’ve been really good, it’s been a fantastic trip so far.

 How does the training intensity differ from what our players are accustomed to in other successful countries like Australia?

They need to be able to train in intensity to improve and then play matches at strong competitive levels regularly. In Australia, the women’s game is very developed. We are one of the top teams in the world, the Matildas, they’ve recently just sold out their 14th home game in a row, big crowds and we had the World Cup last year, of course, but that hasn’t come overnight. So, that’s been a lot of planning over many years.

The secret here is to develop players in their youth when they’re young and make them familiar with the game. They’ve got a love for the game and they grow with the game as well. I would say that you know the intensity here or the level of pressure is probably not as high but in Australia, the level that we’re at now has taken many, many years to get to.

You’ve just talked about the project. Where would you say how far are we in the process and how long we have to become a competing nation?

I’ll be honest I think it’s the start of the journey for women’s football in India but what I’d love to see is how the youth are developing and how they’re being trained because that’s the key here. It’s not just about one crop of senior players it’s about continually developing players over many years so that you can create a stronger domestic League.

What we want to do with Women in sports in India and with the players here is, if possible, send players to play in those leagues to get that experience to come back and encourage other players to do the same and create that higher level regularly. When they come together for the national team, they’re better prepared and then the goal would be to have a strong domestic league so you didn’t have to go anywhere to be able to play at a high level.

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