Sachin Tendulkar, Nita Ambani bat for Indian Super League
With barely 44 days to go for kick-off of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL), team owners of the eight franchises gathered in a city hotel yesterday for the official launch of the event.
Extreme left: John Abraham (co-owner NorthEast United FC), Sameer Manchanda (co-owner Delhi Dynamos), Kapil Wadhawan (not seen, co-owner FC Pune City), Sachin Tendulkar (co-owner Kerala Blasters), Hero group Vice Chairman and Managing Director Pawan Munjal, Ranbir Kapoor (co-owner Mumbai City FC), Abhishek Bachchan (co-owner Chennai Titans), Nita Ambani (Founding Chairperson Football Sports Development), Utsav Parikh (co-owner Atletico de Kolkata), AIFF President Praful Patel and Varun Dhawan (first friend of FC Goa) at the oath taking ceremony of the ISL at a city hotel yesterday. The tournament kicks off on October 12. Pic/Suresh KK
Each one of them exuded a great deal of optimism about the competition that is modelled largely around the hugely successful India Premier league (IPL).
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is a co-owner of Kerala Blasters FC said: "Cricket and football have passionate following in our country.
The ISL has all the makings a great platform for present and potential Indian talent and we are keenly looking forward to the kick-off. It's about competing with the right spirit on the field and to continue to be friends off it."
The batting maestro, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, batted for the general health of sport in the country, saying it's high time people woke up to the importance of staying fit and active.
Sports for all
"I would want to support sport. Sport of any kind helps you to be fit and teaches you aspects of life which cannot be learnt in a classroom or boardroom. I have a vision for India — 'Sports for all'.
"It is not about encouraging everybody to take up sports professionally, but making a healthy and fit India. I will be happiest when India will be declared the healthiest and the fittest country in the world."
Meanwhile, Nita Ambani, the founding chairperson of Football Sports Development (promoter body of ISL) said: "It's a momentous day for us as we set ourselves in building a grand coalition among all stakeholders to develop football in the country and take it to its deserving space in Indian sports.
"ISL hopes to act as a foundation in creating an ecosystem to nurture talent and make our own national football heroes through its ambitious grassroots development programme." The tournament gets underway on October 12.
The number of teams in the competition
The number of weeks over which the tournament will be staged, starting October 12
Number of players each squad will have
The number foreign players each outfit can recruit for the tournament