Former Indian spinner Anil Kumble said that other sports need to their own domestic icons to achieve the success and popularity like cricket.

“Until and unless other sports have domestic icons like in cricket, things will not change. That is the change we need to bring in other sports as well,” Kumble said at the day 2 of Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

Kumble added further, “If you look at any football fan today, he still relates to a Messi, he still relates to a Ronaldo or a Pele. I think he should be relating himself to Baichung Bhutia. If you do not create this relation, it is going to be like this forever.”

Former Indian footballer Baichung Bhutia was also in that Festival with Indian legendary spinner. He blamed the lack of infrastructure facilities in the country for India’s current football positions. He said, “There is a huge amount of talent in India. I think we lost out on thousands of Messi, just because we can’t spot them.”

Baichung referred to need focus on the youth development for the future success of Indian football. He said, “Unless you produce quality players, results are not going to come. And if results don’t come, it will become very difficult for football to sell. So, we really have to focus on youth development.”

Baichung added, “When we talk about youth development, we have to ensure it goes to every state, district association, state football association.”

Kumble wished, “I would one day love to see an Indian football team in a tournament final.”

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