Why Indian FOOTBALLERS fail to play 90 minutes?

Why Indian FOOTBALLERS fail to play 90 minutes?

When the founders of Sports & Management Research Institute (SMRI) were searching for answers to some of the questions caused their origin like “Why India can’t win FIFA World cup?”, “why an Indian football club can’t defeat Manchester United in game and fame?” and “why India can’t create Messi?” many commented that the Indian players don’t have the stamina to play 90 minutes.

Sports & Management Research Institute (SMRI) has conducted a series of studies to find out “Why Indian footballers can’t play 90 minutes?” the common reason our sports experts cite to explain the failure of Indian footballers to get recruited to top football leagues of the world. The primary studies our team has conducted reveal the root causes behind the failure of Indian footballers to play 90 minutes. Among them, the most important causes and its solutions are narrated in the interim report INJURY TIME. 

>> Please click here to download the report in pdf format. <<

Picture of News came about INJURY TIME in Malayala Manorma daily (in the Malayalam language)


The majority of Indian footballers play football in dusty bare land during their formative years. The dust particles which rise in the air reach the lungs of players and leads to the following health issues:

  • Reduced lung functioning, which in turn limits their capacity for oxygen intake. Oxygen is indispensable to process the sugars and fatty acids in our cells to produce energy. This situation limits the capacity of a footballer to take adequate oxygen to play for 90 minutes.
  • This leads to chronic lung disorders like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and aggravate asthma.


The majority of Indian footballers play football in the hard ground during their formative years. While they play in grass turf for the first time, they experience the difference in ball movement and player movement. The footballer who learned football in the hard ground will face difficulty to judge the ball movement and self-movement in grass turf and it will badly affect their performance. Balls travel and bounce differently on different surfaces.


The knees, Achilles tendons, shins, and arch of the foot are at risk if a footballer regularly plays in hard surfaces. Ligament injuries in the knee such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are high among our footballers. Even, the early symptoms of these injuries affect their performance badly. Moreover, these types of injuries blow the final whistle to their football career. It is very common in our country that even professional footballers are playing in non-FIFA standard artificial football turfs and in paddy fields (wet or dry) without taking care of their future. Many promising future football stars already left football forever due to ligament injuries.


During the formative years, the majority of Indian footballers play football on grounds that are smaller in size compared to FIFA specifications. When they play football in FIFA standard football pitches, it badly affects their game in many ways. For instance, a footballer who plays in FIFA specified pitches runs more distance compared to one plays in smaller pitches. A typical footballer will run anywhere between 9.8–11.8 km in a game under standard FIFA specified game conditions (Ground size and time frame). But, our players run fewer kilometers on small grounds. As per the study conducted by Sports Analytics students of Sports & Management Research Institute (SMRI), our players run anywhere between 5.5 to 7 km. So, when they play in FIFA specified ground conditions they face difficulty to run 9.8 – 11.8 km. Their body is tuned to run only 5.5 to 7 km. After that, they face difficulty to finish the match.


When the players, who regularly played or practiced in non-FIFA standard football fields play in FIFA standard field, their misjudgments regarding positions and distance will lead to more miss passes during the game. For example, a cricketer who delivers beautiful yorkers in a less than 22 yards pitch (below ICC specified pitch standard) fails to deliver the same in ICC specified 22 yards pitch. Sometimes, his Yorker balls will become full length (half volley) balls in standard conditions. Like this a goal kick aims to cross the centerline will fall somewhere in his own team’s side, if the goalkeeper was regularly practiced in small football fields.

Moreover, the players who practice in small football fields will have difficulty to play in wings and to play long passes.

(FIFA specified football field: 110–120 yards (100–110 m) long by 70–80 yards (64–73 m) wide.)


The majority of our players are playing or practicing football without taking adequate water and food. Water regulates body temperature and lubricates the joints. It helps transport nutrients to give energy and keep the athlete healthy. If the athlete is not hydrated adequately it will lead to dehydration and will decrease physical activity performance and may adversely affect the health. Dehydration can also lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, muscle cramping/fatigue and breakdown of skeletal muscle. These are very common in our playgrounds/practice grounds.


In Football, there are different positions (roles) like striker, midfielder, goalkeeper, and defender. Each position and player needs customized exercise and nutrition for their performance based on their role and body composition. For example: In Athletics, the body structure of Sprinter and marathon runner is different and also their performance is different. A Sprinter requires strong and bulky muscles for improving their performance and the muscle in their body has to release energy faster. But in the case of a Marathon runner, they don’t require bulky muscles. Their muscles have to store more energy that has to be used while running. So both the players have to undergo different training and different nutrient foods as per their requirement. Similarly in football, players in different positions have to play differently. The striker has to run faster than others. The midfielders have to run long distance and defenders should be strong and powerful. Hence the different type of high-performance training (strength and conditioning) has to be given to different positions. Even the nutrition level in the body is different for different players. So each player needs different nutrition menus for their performance.

Unfortunately, most of our football academies don’t have a player-specific fitness training plan or nutrition menu. This limits the future career prospects of our skillful footballers. Their careers are being ruined by traditional glucose water and general gym training.


Our present football environment has already destroyed many Messis and Ronaldos. The number of youth takes medication for football-related ligament injuries and other injuries raise day by day. To prevent this situation from being a crisis, we need effective actions.

Our study group recommends the following actions to control this issue and to make India’s journey to be a football superpower easy.

1 Maximum FIFA standard football fields

FIFA regulations stipulate that teams must play and train on a consistent surface. We need the maximum number of football fields with FIFA specified size and surface specifications. If possible, the present fields which fall below FIFA standards have to be upgraded to FIFA standard fields.

2. Grading Playgrounds and stadiums

All the playgrounds and stadiums must be graded based on the specified standards by certified sports engineers. The details of the ground and the grade must be displayed in the playground to help the players to understand the nature of pitch they play. Safety precautions, which are to be taken on that particular surface must be displayed to reduce the incidence of sports injuries.

3. Use Sports & Exercise Scientists and Sports Nutritionists

Even most of our coaches are not aware of the roles of Sports & Exercise Scientists (High-Performance Coach or Strength & Conditioning Coach) and Sports Nutritionists in enhancing human performance. Sports Associations and other sports agencies must give awareness to coaches, players and parents about the roles of high-performance coaches and sports nutritionists in the making of elite athletes. The government also set up institutes to produce enough world-class high-performance coaches and sports nutritionists in India.

4. Developing hybrid turf grass variety

We need football surfaces with grass. But the cost of managing grass turf is a major constraint for many to go for natural grass. A FIFA standard natural grass turf needs 26,417 US gallons (100,000 liters) of potable water daily. Apart from this, regular mowing is required to maintain the grass height. It increases the cost of maintenance. But for winning football, we need grass turf. One of the best ways to solve this issue is to develop a hybrid sporting grass variety.



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