Happy times are back for the Indian football fans as both men’s and women’s football contingent has been given the green signal to participate in the Asian Games, to be staged in Hangzhou, China. The teams have received approval for taking part in the much anticipated Asiad, as Government has decided to go light on the selection criteria.
A silver lining for Indian football
Indian football has recently experienced a lot of improvement. Over the past few years, under the strict vigil of Croatian great Igor Stimac, who has experience of molding several Croat legends like Luka Modric to one of the greatest. and led by example by Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri, India is slowly and steadily rising up the ranks of world football. Currently, they are poised on 99th spot, which is one of the best in recent stages. They have won three coveted titles over the past few months, including SAFF Championship, Intercontinental Cup and Tri-Nations Cup, and has garnered mass appraisal from the entire country.
Their dream of dominating the world came to a standstill when they were barred from participating in the upcoming Asian Games, one of the enterprising and eye-catching competitions of the world. Initially, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had declined their stance to play in this spectacle, owing to India’s official ranking outside top eight, which is the necessity of participating in it.
Great decision after nationwide backlash
This decision of IOA was not received well by Indian football fans who wanted their team to flourish at a stage like Asiad. Nationwide protests and slogans surfaced, in support of the Indian football contingent. In response to this backlash, Indian football’s governing body AIFF decided to make an appeal against this sturdy decision by IOA, where National coach Igor Stimac took to social media to make an earnest appeal to honorable Prime Minister of India and Sports Minister, asking him to resolve this issue.
Following this, today, honorable Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has tweeted, rejoicing the decision of the Sports Authority, by saying, “Good news for Indian football lovers! Our national football teams, both Men’s and Women’s, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion.”
“Make our country proud”
Shri Anurag Thakur further, “Keeping in mind their latest performances in the recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation. I am sure they will put their best foot forward in the Asian Games and make our country proud.”
Reportedly, Indian men’s team lies on 18th position in the Asian football hierarchy, whereas women’s side is ranked 11th. According to Sports Ministry’s selection criteria for team events, teams ranked in the top eight will be allowed to take part in the Games.
As a result of this judgement, Indian football team will get an opportunity to showcase their skills on a bigger stage, which might open the door for a bright future.