THE ARROWS ARE BACK. The experimental team made up of promising Indian youngsters which played in the I-League till the 2012-13 is being reinstated by AIFF.
The Arrows were conceived as a launch-pad project for promising Indian players into top flight professional football. During its original run as a team based out of Kolkata, the Arrows gave many prominent players like Jeje Lalpekhlua, Debjit Majumder, Prabir Das and Pritam Kotal their very first taste of senior top division club football.
The I-League, with the departure of Bengaluru FC and withdrawal of DSK Shivajians, are short of clubs. The AIFF held a bid for new I-League clubs and none of the applicants managed to fulfill the criteria set by the Federation. While there's likely to be a second round of bids, the AIFF has decided to go ahead and re-introduce the Arrows straight away.
This time, the Arrows will consist of players from India U-17 and India U-19 teams. The U-17 boys especially, who have gone through intense training over the last 2 years, are going to play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October. The Federation does not want their journey towards growth together to just end with that. The Arrows team will help the Federation keep the boys together and see them through the final few years of development, which will be aided by regular games in the I-League.
The team will be based in New Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium this time around.