By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: Sporting action is back in India post the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. To be precise, Indian Football is back post the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown as the Hero I-League Qualifiers 2020 kicked-off on Thursday (October 8, 2020).
With Indian Football being the first to resume post lockdown, the “pride and relief” of the big boys of Indian Football knows no bounds.
Arjuna Awardee Sandesh Jhingan feels “extremely happy that live sport in India has resumed, that too with Indian Football leading the way.”
“It was the ray of hope which we all were waiting for. Everyone missed sports in India. It is remarkable that sporting action is back. I need to thank all the people who have risked their lives and are working relentlessly behind the scenes to make it safe for us all – the players, the officials,” he stated.
“I wish that with all the safety measures being practised, maintained and followed, other sports will also get back on track soon,” Jhingan added.
‘Spiderman’ Subrata Paul maintained “the resumption of sporting activities is the perfect ray of hope not just for footballers, but all sportspersons across India.”
“The pandemic has brought in doubts in the minds of the people. Even at this stage, all entertainment and even a sizable percentage of public transport are still shut down. Even offices and educational institutions haven’t re-opened as yet. In such a situation, organising a tournament with so many evident challenges and ensuring safety to all abiding by the covid bubble protocol speaks volumes about the operational aspects which govern Indian Football,” he opined.
“As a footballer, I am immensely proud that sports in India has resumed, and is back through Indian Football. It only epitomises our motto – Indian Football Forward Together,” he stressed.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the first Indian player to have featured in the UEFA Europa League, averred that this is “a very important time for all of us who are into Football.”
“Football has started in India and Indian Football is leading the way which is great for us footballers. It’s been extremely frustrating and difficult to be waiting on the sidelines while the pandemic affected all of us. To be able to restart in a manner which is the new normal and that we all need to get used to is great and I am looking forward to the new season keeping everyone’s safety in mind,” Gurpreet, the 2019-20 AIFF Player of the Year, expressed.
Jhingan even elaborated that the restart of sporting action will “bring in a sense of belief among all which will inspire everyone to tread on the path to make India become a giant in the sporting world, a better nation and possibly the greatest nation in the world.”
“The Hero Indian Super League is also all set to kick-off soon. To be a part of the league is great for me and all footballers. The recognition the league provides is worth all the wait,” he said.
Midfielder Anirudh Thapa, the 2019-20 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year added: “We are really excited that Indian Football is back. Since all of us have been locked in our homes for the last 6-7 months, it is such a relief that live sporting action has eventually kicked off. I am hoping that this will be a great season for Indian Football.”