New Delhi: In a development that would surely address the demands of players and club officials alike, the I-League matches will be played only in the evenings under floodlights from next season, national football coach Wim Koevermans said on Wednesday.
Most of the I-League matches start at 3 or 4pm local time in the tournament that is played from September to May, prompting many players and officials to complain about exhaustion due to heat.
Talking to reporters here Koevermans said playing in the evening under floodlights was one of the "improvements" the All India Football Federation would make from next season.
"I-League is not one of the best leagues in the world and we have to accept that. There are drawbacks and weak points but we have to see the big picture and try to solve the issues we face so that Indian football moves ahead," Koevermans said.
"One improvement we are going to make from next season will be to play I-League matches in the evening and not at daytime," he said.
"A top-class I-League is important for the good performance of the national team. So we have to pay attention to the I-League besides also encouraging grassroot development initiatives," he added.
Koevermans also said the underperforming national team will have to continue playing international matches to improve its standard.
"Our hopes for playing the AFC Asian Cup in 2015 is over now but we have to keep on playing international matches. We have to play international matches on FIFA dates.
"We are playing SAFF Championships later this year. All these are international matches and 10 to 15 international matches in a year is our target. We have a plan to play international matches in Europe in June but it's yet to be finally decided," said the Dutchman who was a member of 1988 European Championship-winning Netherlands team.
Koevermans said that India will have to pick up pace in its football developmental activities if it wants to compete even at the Asian level.
"There is no other way but to act now. Asian countries are making rapid strides and countries like Afghanistan have improved a lot in the last few years and India cannot lag behind," he said.
"We have to give serious thought to grassroot and youth development. There is a plan (named Lakshya 2022, authored by Technical Director Rob Baan) which provides for grassroot and youth development. It's lying on the table and we have to give a serious thought to it and implement it."
He said there will have to be synergy between the AIFF and club officials in order to take Indian football forward.
"The AIFF and I are constantly in touch with club coaches and officials to be on the same page on issues concerning the development of football in this country. I am also going to conduct a Pro-License coaching course for I-League clubs later this year."
Asked about the lack of visibility of the I-League on television screens, Koevermans added, "There are weak links in the I-League. It's ideal if the I-League has good visibility on television. But we are looking at the larger picture."