You are here: Home » Beyond Business » Sports
Business Standard

Greener pastures beckon

Aabhas Sharma  |  New Delhi 

Two Indian footballers get the chance to shine in foreign leagues.

Coventry City might not be a well-known club outside England, but it’s sure to gain popularity if Indian striker Sunil Chhetri gets a contract with them. Twenty-five-year-old Chhetri, who has been heralded as the new face of Indian football, is heading for a week-long trial to England.

On the other hand, midfielder, Steven Dias, has already signed up with Major League Soccer in the US. Dias is likely to being picked up by DC United, one of the most successful clubs in America.

Chhetri, meanwhile, was also offered a contract by MLS, but opted to wait for an offer from a European club, which has come via Coventry City. Although the trial might not lead to a contract, in the end it does offer Chhetri a chance to get invaluable exposure.

He has been banging in goals for fun in the domestic league, and a week of playing in England will do him a lot of good. Coventry City are in the second division of England, and if Chhetri makes it, he will have eclipsed Baichung Bhutia, who played for FC Bury about eight years ago. “It’s a good start for him to land a trial and will boost the confidence of other players as well,”says Nirvan Shah, who is a professional football coach.

While the soccer league in the US is not too good compared to European leagues, it still offers a better chance for Dias to shine. Dias is an attacking midfielder, and plays for Mumbai-based club Mahindra United.

Both these players are vital for the national team as well, and a chance to hone their skills in the foreign leagues is a good sign for it as well. While too many foreign players have been a regular feature in the domestic league, it will be a good thing if a few Indians make the crossover as well, and ply their trade overseas. For now, it’s a good start to get a trial for Chhetri and a short-term contract for Dias. It’s upto them to capitalise on these chances and move on to bigger things.

First Published: Sun, January 25 2009. 00:00 IST