(PTI) The ISL has brought with it a sustainable structure to the Indian football, including infrastructure and great coaches, reckons Hyderabad FC midfielder Nikhil Poojary.
Poojary is one of the most important players in the Hyderabad FC set-up having played 28 games for them in the last two seasons of the Indian Super League.
In the 2020-21 edition, the versatile midfielder featured in 10 games and played 604 minutes in all for Manuel Marquez’s team that narrowly missed out on a semi-final berth in what was its second season in the league.
“The Hero ISL has had a tremendous impact on Indian football. The reason I say that is now we have top grounds, facilities and great coaches.
“It has brought with it a structure to Indian football that is sustainable and will have a positive impact on the long-term future of the sport in the country,” he told in an interview uploaded on the ISL website.
The last season saw 11 teams participate in the league and as many as 115 matches fought tooth and nail.
Poojary, who made his ISL debut in FC Pune City colours in 2018-19, said that the league has given wings to Indian football.
Poojary was born in Mangalore but grew up in Mumbai. In the early part of his footballing career, he represented Mumbai FC and East Bengal (now SC East Bengal) before joining FC Pune City in the Hero ISL.
“I hail from Navi Mumbai, and like most Mumbaikars, we are a middle-class family. We had a modest upbringing.
“My dad was the sole breadwinner back then. He gave my brother and me, everything we asked for and supported us. My mother was our pillar of support who took care of everything at home.”
When asked if he really harboured a dream of becoming an athlete growing up, the 25-year-old said: “No. I wanted to take part in many events, and win medals. I used to think that professional athletes are different from others and they had their own lifestyle.”
Like everyone else, Poojary is trying hard to find ways to cope with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, both on personal as well as professional level.
“It’s been difficult for everyone. It’s been a year to forget but as an athlete, you try to do as much as you can to help your family and friends in these times. And other times you try to follow a routine so that you can keep yourself in excellent condition,” he said.