North-eastern giants Shillong Lajong have taken a monumental decision to shift their focus from the temptation of immediate glory to becoming a leading example of how Indian football clubs should think.
The Meghalaya based I-League side, who have been one of the toughest competitors for traditiona clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, has now decided to field their I-League team this season without the presence of a single foreigner in their squad.
Speaking to the Times of India, Larsing Min, owner of Lajong made this announcement on Sunday as he said, "The decision not to field any foreigners this season was taken a couple of months ago. We feel this is the right decision for the club in the long run."
He continued, "Rather than spending money on foreigners, we will use the same budget to produce quality Indian players. Our focus over the last few years has been on development and with I-League and Indian Super League going on together, this is the correct time to boost Indian football."
Larsing further believes that this step from Lajong could be a catalyst for change in Indian football. He said, "Now with Indian football on the rise, it only makes sense to take this further. We plan to continue working more on the developmental space in the next three to four years before there is clarity on league structure in India."
Shillong Lajong adopt no-foreigner policy for I-League https://t.co/NYZoJGzHz4— moto (@moto2002moto) October 15, 2018
However, there can be major drawbacks of not having a single foreigner in the side and when asked about the same, Larsing confidently replied, "I know we are facing a huge change. A Sony Norde can win you the league, but how will that help improving the game in the country? I would rather have my young boys depend on themselves."
Alyson Kharsyntiew will be guiding the young Lajong team in the I-League in the upcoming season. He became the head coach after Bobby Nongbet quit his job in mid-season.
Revealing the challenge Shillong Lajong will face this season in the I-League, Larsing oozed with optimism as he concluded, "We are aware we have a mountain to climb. It is going to be very difficult but we are up for the challenge. We know our priorities and if we are able to produce a quality side for the future, we will know that we have done a good job."
People like Larsing are extremely important in Indian football's development at grassroot level. Hopefully this amazing decision goes a long way in making other clubs realise the importance of promoting homegrown talent.
What Larsing said is totally true and valid, clubs can invest the same money that they spend on a foreigner on a good number of Indian footballers, which will be more productive for the sport in India.