In order to be successful, a football club requires a tangible fan base in its hometown. Keeping this in mind, ISL
franchise FC Pune City through its campaign titled ‘Forces of Football’ is planning to muster support of locals to make the city a hub of football in Western India.
The initiative aims to bring corporations, schools, PDFA-registered clubs and people on a common platform.
Beginning August 29, the club will hold tournaments for various categories at Green Box facilities. It wishes to engage as many as 5,000 players through the tournament.
Team’s CEO Gaurav Modwel said the club wishes to make the activity an annual feature.
“We all know the major Scandinavian football tournaments like Dana Cup and Gothia Cup. Over 30,000 professional and amateur football players participate in these tournaments. These tournaments had humble beginnings and I am hopeful that Forces of Football will be a successful venture for the city,” said Modwel.
The registrations for the tournament has already crossed the 2,000 mark and more entries are expected as the club has promised winners trophies and signed jerseys apart from cash prizes. Modwel said the city already has fans who follow the game religiously, but the passion is not converting into success.
“I know many kids who wear jerseys of European football clubs while watching matches on TV. You won’t find these dedicated fans anywhere else. Last year, around 20,000 people had bought tickets to watch the club play. This year, we have roped in quite a few quality players from across the world and the fans are going to love every moment of the campaign,” he added.
When asked if the club was trying to emulate the pattern of successful clubs in the world, Modwel said it was not feasible to follow their paths.
“Europeans have been playing football for generations. In the US, the seeds of Major League Soccer (MLS) were sown 15 years ago. Today, they are seeing the fruits of their efforts. In 2014 World Cup, their team performed much better. We have to find our own ways to be successful. Over the next five years, we are going to observe events in the city that draw a good response from masses. We will link football and the club with these events,” he added.
Interestingly, the club is not only confining itself to the city, but has also showed interest in exploring southern and northern Maharashtra.
When asked why will other cities root for Pune, Modwel said as per his observation these cities have a better connect with Pune than Mumbai.
“A 17-year-old kid from Kolhapur who plays really well can be the flag-bearer for that city. Similarly, we can have different people from various parts of the state and the country, supporting the club,” said Modwel.
The club already has an unofficial fan club Orange Army and has launched initiatives like Pride of Pune and My City My Club to attract fans.