3/30/2018 12:37:57 PM (GMT+3)

Football Under Sun: Santosh Trophy needs better planning and investment

Football Under Sun: Santosh Trophy needs better planning and investment

KOLKATA, India: Indian football’s so-called National Championship for Santosh Trophy lost its lustre long time back, but the tournament, which is currently under way here, also reminds us that the competition needs a complete revamp.

Defending champions Bengal take on Karnataka while Kerala meet Mizoram in the semifinals of the 72nd edition here on Friday.

With the young footballers getting to showcase their talent and merit in glamourous events like I-League or Indian Super League (ISL), it’s time to ponder if it’s really worth to host Santosh Trophy under the scorching sun and presence of very few admirers at the Mohun Bagan ground and Howrah Stadium.

Armando Colaco, who was once synonymous with Dempo Sports Club’s stupendous success, is currently guiding the Goan ship.

The 65-year-old expressed his displeasure the way the competition is being run, but also felt it’s a great platform for the juniors.

“It’s true Santosh Trophy has lost its glory, but it can be the platform for upcoming players. From that perspective, the tournament shouldn’t be scrapped but the AIFF should make it more attractive,” Colaco told www.khelupdates.com in an exclusive interview.

In the past, India’s former coach Bob Houghton, who guided the senior national team to 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Doha, had described Santosh Trophy as a ‘non-sense’ exercise as it had failed to inspire young footballers.

Even the current coach Stephen Constantine or the selectors don’t even turn up as the states battle for supremacy.

Santosh Trophy kicks off every year with a shoe-string budget of INR one lac with a player receives a per day allowance of INR 1000 while I-League offers INR 2500 inclusive accommodation, food and travelling.

Even the AIFF couldn’t offer much insight into the tournament’s dwindling future in terms of budget and incentives.

“The investment on Santosh Trophy should be increased, but we already have I-League and other events which weren’t there before. It’s not possible to invest heavily on the National Championship,” said AIFF Senior Vice-President Subrata Dutta.

However, Bengal striker Sumit Das, 21, who debuted in the tournament this year, and scored two goals in the opening match against Manipur, is happy to play in the competition.

“If I can be consistent, I might get a call from I-League or from ISL teams. Manveer Singh, Ronald Singh, and Basant Singh have had a good tournament last year with Bengal and were rewarded with offers from I-League and ISL clubs,” said Das.

But Mohammedan Sporting coach Biswajit Bhattacharya believes that while it helps upcoming players, the tournament should be planned in a professional way.  

“Santosh Trophy should be an U19 tournament which can help create a talent pool. If AIFF makes an effort to attract investors and sponsors, the tournament once again can regain importance,” said the former India international.