Six-a-side football format set to grow in India: Bhaichung Bhutia

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Hyderabad: Star footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, who was on Thursday roped in as the League Mentor of the Hyderabad Football League (HFL) six-a-side tournament, said the new format is set to grow in India.
The third season of HFL six-a-side tournament, to be held at different venues here, will begin on November 26 and conclude on January 27, 2018. It will feature 135 matches.
“Six-a-side format is a great format to play…it’s a sport which is really growing. I think this is a format which is going to grow in India. “Small format–small-sided-games have always been fascinating. South Americans have now picked up small-sided-games like five-a-side, six-a-side and seven-a-side games,” Bhutia told reporters in Hyderabad.
“I think this format allows kids to get contact with the ball much more. This format has been encouraged a lot in South America. I think in India, this year onwards the All India Football Federation is trying to introduce small-sided-games,” the former captain of Indian football team said.
According to Bhutia, six-a-side tournament is a fast and exciting game and keeps one always on the move. “I think not only kids but players, who have retired like me would also enjoy playing it. It is a wonderful format to play.”
To a query on his role as League Mentor, Bhutia said, “I am here to mentor and advise the organisers in terms of format and towards taking it in different states to popularise it.”
To another query, Bhutia said, “Six-a-side has nothing to do with the AIFF (the apex Indian football body). It is a new kind of format and a new kind of a game and I don’t think federation or anybody will object to it.”
HFL chairman Murad Jasani said the long-term vision of the league is to have 12 permanently registered teams and players who are on contracts with the teams by the next season and replicate similar leagues in eight more cities within the next three years.

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