How To Reach From Grassroots To Indian National Football Team

The following article is a guest post from Soccer Ji

indian football team- 2022-world cup qualifiers
image source: newindianexpress.com

With the 5th year of the Indian Soccer League – ISL that concluded recently, it is not only confirmed that we have a huge fan following for football in the country but also that there’s a huge potential for football in the country.

Even though the ISL has given football the platform to succeed, India can only truly succeed and become an Asian giant and then a world renown team if there is work happening at the grassroots level. Sepp Blatter once said “India is a sleeping giant of the world football.”

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and neither can a world cup winning team be put together in a day, but it takes years of identifying and nurturing the right talent at the grassroots level. With a number of opportunities now available for a player to get to the highest level of football, more
talent is getting attracted to the sport.

There are various platforms that act as stepping stones for a player to make a career in football like academies at the grassroots level, Nationals for Under 14 and Under 17 categories, Youth Leagues, School Nationals, and Subroto Cup.

Subroto Cup:

One of the most famous inter-school football tournaments in India. It is conducted annually by the Indian Air Force in coordination and with the support of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
It consists of mainly 2 categories:

  • Sub-Junior (Under 14 years)
  • Junior (Under 17 years)

The Preliminary stage, also known as the Pre-Subroto is held in states across the nation in the sub-division, district and division level. The school that becomes the champion of the state is invited to play the main tournament of the Subroto Cup in Delhi.
Subroto Cup provides a great level of exposure to young players to develop their talent. Playing well at this level can very well garner a lot of attention and they can even be called for the Under 14 or Under 17 National trials for the National team selection.

Academies or Football Schools

There are many academies serving at the grassroots level like Baichung Bhutia Football School and Delhi Youth Football Academy (DYFA). These are for anyone who wants to play or wants their children to indulge in Football. These academies have pay and play structure where anyone can play by paying the fee for the academy with a Children to Coach ratio of about 10:1 to 8:1.

Kids as young as 5 years old to 15 years old can train in the academies that are dedicated for the grassroots development of the children. Kids from the regular squads are hand picked and selected for the development squad. This is the most talented squad out of the entire batch of students i.e. the best train in this squad. Players with extraordinary talents also get scholarships.

These players participate in different tournaments in the Under 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17 age group categories. This best of the lot squad travels and plays tournaments that are held across the nation. There are leagues like Delhi Youth League (DYL) and RFYC (Reliance Foundation Young Champs) that promote the development of talent at the grassroots level.

There is a good chance for the players to get scouted by big clubs and also by the AIFF for the Under 14, 16 and 18 India team selections.

Youth Leagues

There are 3 main age group categorizations:

  • Under 13
  • Under 15
  • Under 18

Every state team comes to participate in these youth league tournaments. This is another opportunity for young talent to get scouted for AIFF Under-14, 16 and 18 India team trials.
These tournaments are organised by the AIFF with 2 stages.

Stage 1
This is based on the zones. There are 8 teams from a state which compete with each other out of which only one proceeds to the 2nd Stage of the tournament. Any team from across the state can participate in the tournament. The winners of a particular zone, then proceed for the
national team selection where the main event is played.

Stage 2
This is where every team from across the nation comes to participate. All the winners of their respective tournaments come together to compete in the main event for the coveted title for National winner. Scouts and coaches of football clubs are also present at these major tournaments. This offers a great opportunity to the young players to showcase their talent and be selected by a professional football club or the national team.

School Nationals

These nationals are organised by the AIFF. Only school students can participate in such tournaments. This is not an open tournament so the number of teams that participate are restricted to the number of schools in the zone. This tournament follows a format where teams in the same zone compete against each other. The champions of each zone then move on to
play in the national tournament offering a great talent showcasing platform to the young generation of players.

To further increase your chances to make it to the Indian National Team, it is crucial to have an edge over the other prospective players. Now you need not worry about where to rush. We have a one-stop solution for all your queries. The Soccer Ji App!!

SoccerJi is a Football application which helps you connect all the dots and get all the information at one place. It addresses a huge void that prevailed in the football world by organizing all the blocks of the puzzle together. The various parts of the puzzle are the players, ground, tournaments, and the support staff. This app gives you information about all the players
and their profile with all their attributes, the number of grounds that are available and their location on Google Maps, the tournaments being organized in the area and its specifics, & the availability of other support staff like coaches, physiotherapists, dietitians, and referees. The app lures you into the functionalities offering a practical solution, more convenience, more connectivity and innumerable other features that certainly gives it an edge over the other apps.

It also offers features like advertising and contacting vendors for your equipment and merchandise needs. With the SoccerJi app, you can give your career a push start, get all the information faster and easier even if you have forgotten when your training session or the tournament match is
scheduled. Just register in the app or login using your Google email id and get started.

It is natural for any human being to be scared of how to make it big from the scratch, but we have innumerable living legends who proved their worth, for instance Sunil Chetri, Virat Kohli, M.S. Dhoni etc. All you’ve go to do is to endure and you will rise. In a world that reveres superficiality, go deep. In a world that honours distraction, be focused and in a world that breeds ordinary, rise to the legendary. Hustle and keep hustling!


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