Have the Indians kicked their ball to the other side of the fence? How much of Indian football is really it? The steady stream of foreign footballers, particularly from Africa, Central Asia, West Asia and also South America, flowing into the various soccer clubs of this country, coupled with Mohun Bagan becoming the National League champions twice in four years have rekindled this old debate.
There can be no question that players from abroad have contributed to the evolution of domestic soccer in India, by improving local standards. Through the 1980s and 1990s the trickle, which had begun with Majid Bhaskar, Jamshid Nassiri, Cheema Okerie and Christopher Bernard, became a deluge with raw, muscular recruits and grizzled veterans from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, Brazil and Uzbekistan moving in to join football teams in West Bengal, Goa, Mumbai and Kerala. This, however, has done little to improve Indias ranking-110th among soccer-playing nations in the world. Not even with newcomers like Jackson, Musa, Igor, Barreto, Stephens, Omello flooding the Calcutta clubs. Many now also play for Kerala, Goa and Mumbai as well.