Indian media: Can ISL revive football?

Atletico de Kolkata player Luis Garcia lifts the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the Indian Super League (ISL) final football match against Kerala Blasters at The D.Y. Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on December 20, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Atletico de Kolkata won the first ISL trophy on Saturday

Papers say the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) has sparked hopes of making football popular in "cricket-crazy" India.

Atletico de Kolkata beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 on Saturday night to lift the first ISL trophy.

Eight teams based in different Indian cities participated in the 10-week tournament with the aim of increasing the popularity of the sport in a "cricket-crazy" country.

Most papers feel the ISL may become a "turning point" for the future of football in India.

"Football in India will never be the same again and ISL can take all plaudits for this monumental change in the country's sporting culture," The Times of India says.

The paper adds that the tournament has "managed to recapture the imagination of football fans and effected a dramatic turnaround in it, shattering old biases".

While noting that the league has been able to "create a huge fan following across India", it concludes that the country is a "step closer" towards finding a place "on the global football map".

The First Post website, meanwhile, says the final match ended "in a blaze of confetti, fire crackers" and "buried" the initial scepticism about the quality of the game.

"The inaugural Indian Super League started amid concerns and doubts - the few bad games at the start also made many question the quality of the football," the website says.

It recommends the organisers to continue the "good work" but "make some changes" for future.

The schedule of the tournament was extremely tight and players did not get enough rest, the website suggests.

"Sometimes you have to catch two planes to get to a destination. There are just two rest days - and it's the same rest period between big games like the knockouts too. So this needs to change," the website quotes Spanish footballer Luis Garcia, who plays for Atlético de Kolkata, as saying.

On a positive side, sport experts feel the ISL is likely to inspire youngsters in India to play football.

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia feels the sporting authorities should build on the fresh impetus and look for new talent.

"The ISL will get more youngsters into the game; there's no about doubt it… Talent has to be spotted at the grass root level and the AIFF (All India Football Federation) should provide programmes and support systems,'' The Hindu quotes Bhutia as saying.

Religious conversions

In some domestic news, papers report that about 30 Christians were converted to Hinduism in the southern state of Kerala on Sunday

Critics point out that Hindu organisations have stepped up cultural aggression after the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power earlier this year.

A recent conversion of about 300 people, mostly Muslims, to Hinduism in northern city of Agra had triggered opposition parties' protest in the parliament.

Hindu groups defend the conversions, calling them "home coming" of people who were earlier Hindus but had converted to other religions.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites