Look at the bright side: Vijayan, Edwin on CFA League’s resumption

“The League will be of huge help to players who look at football as life,” said Edwin, a household name in not only the local league but also Tamil Nadu football.
Look at the bright side: Vijayan, Edwin on CFA League’s resumption
Players, staff and officials after the Customs-Income Tax match on Monday

CHENNAI: “Something is better than nothing,” stressed former India forward and Tamil Nadu legend Raman Vijayan when asked about the Chennai Football Association (CFA) Senior Division League that has sprung to life after a four-year hiatus.

The local league, which was last held in 2018, resumed on Monday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, much to the relief of players and coaches who had waited for what seemed an eternity.

For the uninitiated, the Senior Division League did not take place from 2019 to 2021 due to a legal tussle between the CFA and the Tamil Nadu Football Association (TNFA).

While the hastily-organised competition is up and running after multiple postponements, there is uncertainty over whether it would last the distance.

“I would like to look at the bright side. I will not blame anyone. It (the resumption of the League) is a good sign and I am really happy about that. The issue [between the associations] should not stop on-ground activities. I just want the action to continue,” Vijayan, who had coached Chennai United in the previous edition, told DT Next.

Chennaiyin FC midfielder Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, who is donning the Income Tax colours in the ongoing event, echoed Vijayan’s words.

“The League will be of huge help to players who look at football as life,” said Edwin, a household name in not only the local league but also Tamil Nadu football.

“Since the League was not hosted for three years, a lot of players dropped out of the sport. Some of my former teammates are no longer playing football. Let at least the next generation get game time to exhibit their talent,” added Edwin.

Meanwhile, Vijayan termed the return of the Senior Division League as a “blessing” for players and coaches who are not part of Indian football’s top tier.

“The second and third tiers are extremely important. For example, if you look at the last few years, many have completed coaching licenses [online]. But, they do not have on-ground experience [because of the COVID-19 pandemic]. In case they get an opportunity here (in the League), they will hugely benefit from it,” he stated.

Both Vijayan and Edwin emphasised that the League would provide better exposure, which is the need of the hour for up-and-coming talent in the state.

“A coach would want his wards to play as much as possible. What is the use of training day in and day out if there is no competitive action?” queried Vijayan.

“There are lots of eyes on the League. We have some department teams, so a few top players may be invited for selection and could get appointed by them. There is an opportunity for the players to get a secured job. Only because of the League did many settle in life [a few years ago],” explained Edwin.

The CFA and the TNFA may continue to have differences but for the sake of those who eat, sleep and live football, the show must go on!

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