When you talk about world power houses, you usually start off with the United States of America. Then you might chuck in England while the slightly more political folk will tell stories about Russia. It kinda came to be that China became the smokey, the country you'd name drop to make yourself sound like you're on the ball with worldly matters.
Then there's India. India in my reasonably uneducated opinion is similar to China in that they have worried about their own house in the past, now they're out to take over the neighborhood ... or at least have some influence. Of course we don't really care about the political aspect, they're all dumbos, but India has take big leaps in a sporting sense.
It started with the Indian Premier League (IPL) which piggy-backed the emergence of 20 over cricket. The IPL was and is pretty much perfect. It's held in a country where cricket is second to nothing. This means that it's nearly impossible for the IPL to have a major failure, the rich folk who fund it love cricket so they're gonna keep pumping cash in to it while the everyday folk who attend games also love cricket so they're gonna keep going to games. This leads to players being offered sums of money that are far too good to turn down, especially for a few weeks work. A combination of these creates an environment that sponsors want to be a part of - the perfect mix.
India loves cricket, but they also love hockey. This led to the Indian Hockey League (IHL) being created, which is pretty similar to the IPL. It attracts the world's best hockey players while also serving as a farm system for young Indian players, playing in front of packed stadiums. This tournament isn't without mishap - both the Mumbai Magicians and the Ranchi Rhinos have had to pull out of the tournament for various reasons. However, the tournament is great for hockey as the influx of money as well as quality on field action results in a better, more visible international sport. When you consider that hockey in New Zealand is far from professional, with many players having to hold down jobs in between international tournaments, the fact that kiwi players can earn a healthy salary for a few weeks has got to be good for hockey in NZ.
Now they're trying to get in to soccer. Which is where it gets a bit weird. Cricket and hockey are sports which needed India's investment ... you know on 'The Fast and The Furious' how they do the Nos thing and get a boosty boost, well India was and is hockey and cricket's Nos. Soccer doesn't need any Nos, it's the biggest sport in the world and is going along at a pretty swift rate as is.
They're not going to attract big names, just the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet ... guys on their retirement tour. It's super similar to the rebel ICL T20 league in that sense. They'll never get top players at their peak, so why bother? I don't know but it's weird and it's got the world in a bit of a spin, writing things like this one except they're super excited for the rise of Indian football.
Indian football needs to build from within, not bring in outside help. Which leads me to a weird position - I'm in debt to India. I'm in debt because India has boosted two sports that I love in cricket and hockey and I think that India will continue to be the rock that ensures growth and sustainability in these sports. But I have absolutely no care for the Indian Super League. Zero.
Who knows, we might see India become a football powerhouse. But it just feels like India should focus it's energies on doing what it does best and what it knows. Or else India could very well become China in the sense that they have zero sporting relevance and only serve as a money grabbing pit stop for athletes.
Don't sleep on India though.