Indian football legend IM Vijayan feels Kerala needs to have more football tournaments if young players from the state need minutes on the field and improve.
The former Kerala Police and FC Cochin striker was asked about a lack of top talents from the state in recent years in a candid conversation with ex-footballer Raman Vijayan on the Instagram page of I-League club Gokulam Kerala on Sunday.
Vijayan responded, "There were a lot of tournaments (in the past) and there were chances for Kerala-born players. Now we have I-League, ISL and second division and how many players can be accommodated in these leagues? The lack of tournaments is a major reason for not enough talents coming through from Kerala. Even our department teams are only playing one league in Kerala now.
Vijayan bemoaned the lack of Keralites taking the field for Indian Super League (ISL) club Kerala Blasters and credited the Malabarians for their willingness to include more local talents in their squad. He also pointed out young players are scared to leave their jobs to take up professional football.
"Only a few Malayali players are playing for Blasters. Gokulam has brought in a lot of Malayali players. But players who landed a job will be scared to leave that and play football. There are talented players but if they have to leave their job behind, they have to sign for a top team, not for a second division club."
The case for organizing more tournaments can be made for the country as a whole, according to the retired striker. Taking the Santosh Trophy and the lack of a replacement for someone like Sunil Chhetri examples, he said, "The value of the Santosh Trophy has also gone down a lot. I remember Santosh Trophy halting an Indian camp back in the day. Now it is of the standard of an inter-University competition.
"When we played, we were confident that there were players to replace us as strikers. Now, who will replace Chhetri? That is the question now. It is a problem."