Saturday, Sep 20, 2014

Former football captains hail presence of big names in Indian Super League

Former Indian footballer I M Vijayan (R) with Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona. (AP File) Former Indian footballer I M Vijayan (R) with Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona (L). (AP File)
Press Trust of India | New Delhikolkata | Posted: April 13, 2014 5:58 pm | Updated: April 13, 2014 6:52 pm

The football fraternity hailed the coming in of business houses and leading personalities from cricket and entertainment industry in the
high-profile Indian Super League after the organisers announced the eight franchises winners.

The bid winners of the eight franchises of the league, which is scheduled to be held in September-November, was announced in Mumbai by organisers IMG-Reliance after evaluation of the bids by a seven-member panel.

Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were among the host of high-profile winning bidders, which also include Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan and John Abraham, for the league that is set to take Indian football by storm.

Legendary footballer and former captain I M Vijayan said that the involvement of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly will lend credence to the ISL and help in taking football forward in the country.

“I am excited and thrilled at the news that Sachin has bagged the Kochi team. He is the greatest sportsperson in the country with millions of fan following. Sourav Ganguly has also won Kolkata. Certainly, their presence will do wonders in the ISL and in Indian football in general,” Vijayan told PTI from his home in Kerala.

“For long, the business houses have been shy to invest in football. But now with the coming of the ISL, some big businessmen have come at least. Money will be poured in Indian football now. It is a wonderful news for football,” he said.

“I am glad especially for the domestic players and youngsters. They will rub shoulders with some top players in the world. They will gain in experience. Financially also, they will gain,” he added.

Vijayan, also known as the ‘Black Panther’ in Indian football, said Tendulkar being the owner of the Kochi team will be a great boost in reviving football in Kerala.

“Kerala was a football powerhouse of Indian football some years back but it has declined. Now with the coming of the ISL and Tendulkar on board, I hope football will be revived in Kerala.”

Former India captain and Olympian P K Banerjee said the ISL will improve the infrastructure.

“It’s a fantastic news. There’s no denying the fact that money will be poured in to Indian football now. Infrastructure and all will change now.”

“Money is a very big factor. In our times, when I was the coach of the Indian team for the Asian Games in 1982, many players had stopped coming to the camp for lack of money”, Banerjee recalled the tough times they would face back in those days.

“I had discussed this with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. We had suffered like anything in our days. But it’s great to see that things are changing these days. I envy the boys who are getting to play in this time. I’m sure ISL will continued…

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