Indian football veteran Gouramangi Singh feels the Indian Super League (ISL) not only helped players feel more secure in terms of the financial aspect but also rubbing shoulders with some of the best in the business has helped them evolve.
Since its inception in 2014, the ISL has seen global soccer stars like Italy's Alessandro Del Piero and France's Robert Pires take part in the glitzy tournament.
After six seasons, it is India's premier club competition with the league stage winners -- FC Goa this time -- getting a direct entry in the group stage of the AFC Champions League after winning the ISL league phase for season 2019-20.
The former footballer feels that with the ISL has come about an increased sense of professionalism.
"I have played in the ISL and I have seen the professionalism the league has," defender Gouramangi, who has turned out for Chennaiyin and FC Pune City said.
"In the ISL, players have the peace of mind and feel secured as they do not have to worry about contracts.
"The growth of Indian football has been through ISL and there is a steady pattern of professionalism now among all clubs."
Gouramangi also shed light on how top coaches like the Zico and Antonio Habas helped Indian players develop and bring out their best on the pitch both for club and country.
"Also I feel some of the top coaches who have the experience are coaching Indian talents. It was there before also, but with the ISL it is a regular thing now. All the teams in the ISL also compete with each other not just on the pitch but also off it to get better. Some of the training pitches are really good these days.
"We still have a long way to go but I feel we are in the right direction," added the 34-year old who was part of India's 2011 AFC Asian Cup team and is regarded as one of the finest footballers the country has seen.