It is said that no matter where you go on earth you will find an Indian . During the colonial era many people from our country were taken to work as labourers in the other colonies of the British like the West Indies and South Africa and they never returned . After Independence many Indians also went to countries like England , USA , Canada and Australia in search of better opportunities . Now the children of these people are representing these countries in various sports . They represent Players of Indian Origin .
In a time when Indian football is passing through a boon , courtesy the Indian Super League and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), allowing the I League clubs to induct one PIO player each, in addition to the three foreign nationals already allowed , an influx of PIO’s to play here will boost competition and help develop the standard of the game .
Xtra Time would like to take this opportunity inviting the PIOs, or people of Indian origin, to play in India, joining the ever-swelling ranks of foreign players. Presently Keane Lewis is the only PIO footballer who will be seen in action in I League for champions Mohun Bagan . Lewis have played for Major League Soccer (MLS) team Houston Dynamos U-23 side .
There is a huge opening for PIO’s to try their luck in any of the I League clubs . Xtra Time will act as a platform for channelizing the PIO’s to top I League clubs .
Izumi Arata is the perfect example of an Indian origin footballer venturing to Indian shore . Arata, who has an Indian father, last year moved from his native Japan to play for the club. He has already represented the Indian national team and played in ISL for Atletico de Kolkata . He will be playing for Mumbai FC in I League . Before coming to India, Arata played professionally for Albirex Niigata in Singapore’s mediocre S-League, and Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima club in the second division of Japan’s J-League.
Besides Arata, fellow Indian-origin footballer Nichlas Nath of Sweden played for a Goa club last year—tend to be second-tier players. Football’s repatriates, if you will, are a new development, as generally, successful athletes tend to flee India for better support, sponsorships and salaries.
For years, Indian cricketers have played in the English county leagues, both for experience and money. Of late, hockey stars have begun heading to Europe to play in the Dutch, German and Spanish leagues. Basketball players, too, head for countries such as Germany and Australia, including women hoopsters: Geethu Anna Jose plays in the Big V pro league down under. And a few years ago .
“I came here as India is one of my countries,” says Arata, whose Indian name is Neelkant. But he also admits despite the Indian rupee being weaker than the Singapore dollar (one Singapore dollar is worth a little over Rs26), he’s being paid “much more” by Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai FC than Albirex.