ANI Photo | Santosh Trophy essential for players at lower levels: AIFF secretary general

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran has said that many players across the country use the Santosh Trophy as a stepping stone for their career and it is essential for players at lower level as it helps them play the sport with secure income in their coffers.
The 76th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy has started and it aims to spread the game to all corners of the country.
“India is a very big country. It is almost like a continent in itself, and we need to enlarge the competitive base of football at every level here. Every state looks forward to participate in the Santosh Trophy, and giving them better opportunities means that they will be motivated to improve the grassroots operations in their regions, in order to do well in the competition in the longer run,” said AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, according to an AIFF press release.
“The best players in the country may be playing in the ISL (Indian Super League) or the I-League, but the players in the Santosh Trophy are looking to launch their careers. Many use the tournament as a stepping stone, and a few good performances could mean contracts with bigger clubs. This tournament also helps many players secure government jobs. This is essential for players especially at the lower level, as they can keep playing football with a secured income in their coffers,” he added.

The AIFF secretary general stressed on the importance of giving more games to the states and its players, which will, in turn, increase the competitiveness of the teams.
“Our attempt is to revive the Santosh Trophy, to take it back to being one of the most important competitions in the Indian Football landscape, and to energise football at every level. With more games, the states will also be preparing their teams with more seriousness and they will try to find more local talents,” said Prabhakaran.
One of the features of the Santosh Trophy this season is that the semi-finals and the final of the 2022-23 season will be played in Saudi Arabia.
This will be the first time that the Santosh Trophy matches will be played outside India.
“I think taking the Santosh Trophy abroad to a country like Saudi Arabia will greatly inspire the players and the teams. Although only four teams will travel, 36 sides will fight for these four spots, and we expect the competition to be fierce for these four spots,” he said. “The overall competitive value of the tournament will increase because of it,” Prabhakara added. (ANI)

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