Stephen Constantine
British gaffer Stephen Constantine is happy with the grassroots initiative taken by the ISLAIFF Media

India football team coach Stephen Constantine praised the Indian Super League, while mentioning he wants to see the tournament develop the Indian players as a whole.

The British coach was speaking exclusively to ISL's official website on various issues – right from the scouting systems undertaken to the grassroots development, and the improvement that Indian footballers can have from the ISL.

The former Rwanda tactician has categorically stated that scouting is one of the most important aspects of Indian football when it comes to working at the grassroots level, and improvement must be shown with respect to the scouting and performance analysis of players.

And he believes the system is finally in place to get the much-needed improvement in Indian football.

"We need to do a lot of work on the grassroots level, especially the scouting system – which I'm starting. The Indian team has had some bleak years, but we're getting there; a lot of work needs to be done. People want us to do better and we will take some time," Constantine, 52, said.

"But the ISL here is an excellent concept. I hope to see it grow and alongwith it, Indian football and obviously, the players."

Constantine, who is known not to mince words, stressed the fact that the grassroots programme should be taken up from a very young age, and he praised the initiatives taken by the ISL to promote the same.

"Look, you need to start looking at them [the children] from the ages 5-6," he said. "The ISL grassroots initiative has a good U-13 programme. The younger you get them, the better their habits, mentality and footballing intelligence."

Focusing on scouting and performance analysis, Constantine says the entire process is a science.

"Scouting is not something that simply anyone can do; it's a science," he added. "You need to know the player, his tendencies, his position and what not.

"Our scouting system has already found 20-25 players for the U-17 World Cup squad, 5-6 for the U-19 and this is just the beginning. Scouts are the eyes of the coach - we didn't have any but now we have 15-16. 

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) organised a two-day scouting workshop in Goa recently, termed the "Nationwide drive".

The event was conducted by noted International Scout Derek Bragg, who has regularly been scouting for many a national federations, English Premier League and other clubs from the elite leagues in Europe since the last 20 years, and was graced by former Indian footballer Abhishek Yadav, presently director of scouting, AIFF.

Lee Johnson, head coach India U-19 team and Constantine also attended the workshop.

"Philosophy is most important, not the system," Constantine said in the workshop. 

He later tweeted: "The objective [of the workshop] was to identify scouts for the national teams, and to work on a common philosophy. The idea was to try and identify scouts for all the national team age groups, and it was a great response."