Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Indian Super League: Lets Football.

By: Team PenTastic
[Written by: Nimisha Acharya]

The beautiful game football is the most followed all over the world. Even we Indians cheered and cried for the likes of Germany and Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and watch EPL and La Liga with the same fervour as the IPL. But we neither have a world class football team nor a decent footballing league. Luckily this dismal scenario is on the verge of changing with the advent of the Hero Indian Super League. It is India’s unrivalled football championship which kicked off on 12th October 2014. It is co-promoted by IMG-Reliance (the joint venture between IMG and Reliance Industries), Star Indiaand supported by All India Football Federation (AIFF).

For the first time in Indian football, globally renowned footballers will be playing
alongside the best Indian footballers. With a mission to revolutionise the sport, Hero Indian Super League is positioned as a high quality and dynamic league that will elevate Indian football to an international level. The main objective of the League is to make India a global football power and to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup
The league operates along the lines of the Twenty20 cricket Indian Premier League, and Major League Soccer of the United States. Unlike the majority of football leagues around the world, the ISL does not use the promotion and relegation system. It features eight franchise teams from all around India. The teams of the ISL are as follows:
Head coach
Atlético de Kolkata
Antonio López Habas
Luis García
Chennaiyin FC
Marco Materazzi
Bojan Djordjic
Delhi Dynamos
Harm van Veldhoven
Mads Junker
FC Goa
Robert Pires
Kerala Blasters
David James
Penn Orji
Mumbai City FC
Peter Reid
Syed Rahim Nabi
NorthEast United
Ricki Herbert
Miguel Garcia
FC Pune City
Franco Colomba
David Trezeguet

It has helped that top Bollywood stars, industrialists and even cricketers - including the captain and vice-captain - are throwing their weight behind the tournament. But of particular interest to the world has been the presence of five World Cup winners, foreign players from 22 countries and a collective match experience of 1,000 competitive matches in various leagues globally.
"The ISL will either be brilliant or a disaster, but half the battle is already won with the kind of interest that is generated around the world. I am told that 1,000 journalists are covering the league," said Mumbai City FC's assistant coach who had a brief stint at Mohun Bagan as coach.
 But as in all leagues of India, this league too seems to be more about the razzmatazz and less about the game. The biggest cheers were reserved for Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar rather than the footballers. But this is a very big opportunity for our domestic players to be playing with the likes of Luis Garcia, Robert Pires, and Alessandro Del Piero who are legends in their own right. And the Indian football fans would get the amazing opportunity to watch them live in action.

The most expensive city to be won was the Kolkata team, which was won by a group which contained former India cricket player Sourav Ganguly, businessmen Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka, Utsav Parekh, and Spanish La Liga side Atlético Madrid, for approximately 18 crores. The base price of each team was set at 12 crores each. Another former India cricket player, Sachin Tendulkar, alongside PVP Ventures, won the bidding for the Kochi team.
Bollywood stars also won bids for teams. John Abraham, partnering with Shillong Lajong, won the bidding for the Guwahati team. Ranbir Kapoor, alongside Bimal Parekh, won the bidding of the Mumbai team while Salman Khan won the Pune team with the Wadhawan Group. The Delhi team was won by DEN Networks while the Bangalore team was won by the Sun Group. The Goa team, finally, was won by a three-way partnership between Videocon, Dempo, and Salgaocar.

The Teams in the ISL Franchise
Then, on 14 August, it was announced that the Bangalore franchise would disband and on 21 August it was confirmed that Bangalore would be replaced by Chennai team which is owned by Abhishek Bachchan, partnering with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Vita Dani.
The ISL announced its arrival with a bang on 12th October. The freshness, glitz and glamour during the opening ceremony was comparable to that of the IPL. The mass entertainment of Bollywood and football, riding on Indian cricket's shoulder, descended on the illuminated Salt Lake Stadium to set the ball rolling for Indian Super League. The crowd of about 70,000 loved the entire proceedings and swayed to the Bollywood beats. The world suddenly took more than just passing interest in Indian football. For the opening game alone, 23 foreign television channels, newspapers and magazines were granted accreditation, focusing on India and its football like never before. From Tokyo to Brazil, France and Italy, the ISL grabbed worldwide attention.

"The world now knows that Indians play football. Until three years ago, believe me, I knew only of Baichung Bhutia but when I came here, I saw for myself just how passionate Indians were, especially in Manipur, about football," said Steve Darby, former Thailand national coach and a globetrotter.

So is the ISL the herald of a new dawn?? Many people have varied opinions about it. According to Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, "If you look at the history of football, it has always become quicker and it looks like it grows everywhere. It's like a virus that multiplies, so I don't imagine that it won't take off.

"It (football) took a while in the United States but it's now very popular. It faces cricket in India but there's always room for a second sport. There's only really badminton and cricket in India at the moment but there's room for another sport," he was quoted as saying by 'Arsenal Magazine'.

But not everyone is happy with the ISL. Alok Banerjee has been watching football here for the past 50 years. As Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra danced away in front of her adoring fans during the opening ceremony, he said: "I have come to watch football and not to watch film stars, unlike most of the people here. Some people left before the match started. They have no interest in football. They clicked a few pictures to post on the internet and now they have gone home." His friends agree. One of them says, "This is not going to work. It's all just hype."
It has not set the social media on fire like the IPL, FIFA WC or even the Pro Kabaddi League till now. But there is an optimism that the ISL will succeed and change the way we look at football in India. So till then, Keep Calm and Lets Football !!! ;) ;)

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