On a chilly Wednesday morning in Mumbai, a crowd of a few hundred is lining the terrace of a posh hotel, its lights flickering.
At the end of the hall, a small stage stands amid a sea of green and yellow banners.
Its speakers are the voices of a handful of players, and there’s a slight air of camaraderie as they share their thoughts and ambitions.
These are not the words of an ordinary player.
They are the words and words of a superstar, who has emerged from India’s elite national football league, Indian Super League, as the undisputed king of Indian football.
A player with immense talent, and a flair for winning, with a wealth of experience and pedigree, who can compete with the best in the world in terms of raw physical talent.
In an era of rampant corruption and a stagnant economy, the man with the dream is the most exciting thing in the game.
In the early days of the game, in the early years of the millennium, the best players in the country came from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and were often referred to as “Gandhi-Brahmins” in reference to their Indian heritage.
There are now many examples of Indian stars from the Nehru-Gandhis.
The likes of Sanjay Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Shikhar Dhawan, Arun Jaitley and the like are revered and sought after by fans across the country.
Their football is a passion that can never be taken for granted, and they are not afraid to speak their minds about it.
This is the football that, if ever there was one, is now India’s greatest and most iconic, with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ashish Nehra and other legends of the past having made a name for themselves in Indian football, with scores of stars who made the country their own.
They will always be remembered, and the world will never forget them.
They have been the stars of Indian cricket, but for a while now, they have also been the heroes of Indian sports.
It is an honour for Indian sports fans to see Indian football at the forefront of the country’s sporting movement.
They would not have existed had it not been for the achievements of the young and the young at heart, who have helped to change the course of the sport.
As the sport is becoming more mainstream, and with an increasing number of teams coming out of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it has become an easier path for Indian football fans to follow.
The current crop of players are in their late teens and early 20s, and their achievements are not as impressive as those of the greats of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
But they have all been given a chance.
At 19 years old, Gurpreet Kaur has become the youngest Indian to make his Test debut, and he is the only player in the IPL to have made his debut in the same season as Sachin.
At 22, Sanjiv Goel is the youngest player to make the Test side, and his career is now looking set to continue.
Kailash Satyarthi is the oldest player in IPL history, and has also made his Test debuts in the past two years.
His career has gone from strength to strength, with seven Indian Super Leagues (ISL) titles and a World Cup berth.
Kairangan Das is the highest-scoring Indian in IPF history, with 11 Test centuries, and while his bowling skills are not quite as impressive, he is also a huge asset to the Indian team, as his ability to score runs from either side of the wicket has helped India to the title of the most successful side in the World Cup era.
The most important factor for the development of the younger players is the support they receive from their parents and coaches.
Their parents are the ones who instil their love of the art of cricket in them.
These parents, who are well-known to the players, also play a major role in shaping their lives.
Their dedication to their sons and daughters and the team is an asset to a player’s development, and can help to inspire their football aspirations.
For the players who have been selected by the Indian Super league, the pressure is not as great as it is for the more established players.
They still have a long way to go to reach the level of the best of the elite players, but with a lot of hard work and dedication, they can make it happen.
At least, that is the dream.
What do you think?
Is this the Indian football you are dreaming of?
Do you think that it can be a stepping stone for the future of the sports in India?
What is the best and worst thing about Indian football that you think has been overlooked?
Please share your views in the comments section below.