Unpaid,unsung at ND Heroes

One of the high-budget clubs in the Capital,New Delhi Heroes have faced the effects of recession: the ownership has changed hands from a corporate body to a sports management company and the club had to let go more than half-a-dozen players.

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi | Published: March 14, 2009 12:16 am

As the recession-hit club struggles to pay monthly salaries,footballers are playing to get noticed

One of the high-budget clubs in the Capital,New Delhi Heroes have faced the effects of recession: the ownership has changed hands from a corporate body to a sports management company and the club had to let go more than half-a-dozen players. Ironically,however,the team’s stock has soared during the crisis as they played the main round of the Federation Cup and also upset current I-League leaders Sporting Clube de Goa in the same tournament.

“It hasn’t been so easy. Sometimes football isn’t just about money. If there’s a choice between playing the game for money or for the love for football,it’s the second reason we’re playing for. Losing seven-eight players when we were getting together as a team did affect us,now some of the players are not getting the sum they were promised,but at times you have to keep playing to sell yourself to others.

“I’ve tried to motivate the players by talking to them before every match,but there’s a difference when you are forced to play and when you are willing,” said skipper Stanley.

The end of the season might be what a couple of the nine former I-league players are waiting for,having struck a compromise.

“Players aren’t motivated at all. We are playing for ourselves. Our one-month’s salary is due. There hasn’t been too much support from the management either. The season is drawing to a close and that’s why we settled with the crunched contract. But if this goes on,most of the players might not rethink before leaving,” said Zaheer Abbas,a former Air India player.

Youngster Marlanki Suiting,ripe with the experience of playing for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal,is certain to take the ultimate step even if a lucrative offer doesn’t come his way,but there might be light at the end of the tunnel if Saturday’s make-or-break second division I-league tie — against Pune FC-yields a positive result. A victory will take the Delhi club to the main round of the event — a big step towards their goal of playing one-rung higher in the I-League.

“Our previous sponsors went back. Our salaries got cut. Obviously we’ve something on our minds. Whenever we are on the ground we try to forget everything else and play. At the moment tomorrow’s match is very crucial. I don’t know what will happen if we lose. I don’t think players will stay and I’ll quit for sure. Making a team of similar strength will be very difficult,” Marlanki said.

The management doesn’t differ and takes evasive action setting its eyes on Saturday’s match. “Yes a month’s salary is due. But this is a temporary phase which most clubs have gone through. There’ve been financial problems,but we’re only a sports management company.

“When everything is taken away by a sport (cricket),there’s an increasing need of corporate bodies coming forward. Some entities have shown interest but it’ll depend on tomorrow’s match. Our club’s future depends on it,” said Neerav Tomar,New Delhi Heroes managing director.

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