ISL: Nobody knows what future holds for any sport in India other than cricket, says Sourav Ganguly

Written by: IANS
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Sourav Ganguly with Atletico de Kolkata's marquee player Luis Garcia
New Delhi, Oct 11: Indian Super League (ISL) team Atletico de Kolkata co-owner and former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly believes that no sport, other than cricket, can guarantee a future in India, leading him to feel that his football venture may never break even.

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"I don't know when we will break even, doesn't seem so in the near future. There is also a possibility we may never break even. Nobody knows what the future has got in store for any sport in India, other than cricket," Ganguly told IANS in an interview. (Squad and fixtures of Kolkata)

"That is why I say this is not just about money. Hopefully, there will be a future in this, my inner feeling says that and we will break even but when, I don't know."

Ganguly has been quite a busy man lately preparing for the two-month football extravaganza which kickstarts in his home town of Kolkata Sunday.

"I have been pretty hands on this year but it needs to get off me in due course otherwise I will need 48 hours in a day. For the first year, I had to do all the running around in terms of organisation, stadium, getting the structure in place, coaches, physios, trainers, and support staff," he said.

"And in the last two weeks I have become an agent also. I am trying to get sponsors for my team. I have never spoken to a sponsor for myself but I have done it for ISL," Ganguly added, referring to his team's new deal with health insurance company Apollo Munich, who Saturday were named as the co-sponsors of Atletico de Kolkata.

The preparation for ISL has also made life tougher for Ganguly - the cricket administrator.

"It has been very, very tough managing both cricket and football but we have a team which works behind the scenes. I have my own personal work too for which I have to find time," said Ganguly, who in July was elected as the joint secretary of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).

An ardent football fan, the 42-year-old believes that the ISL will give the world's most popular game a push it so needs in India.

Playing or watching the likes of Alessandro del Piero or Luis Garcia, despite being well past their primes, in action will inspire the country's footballers and the younger generation.

"It will help the youngsters. I am a firm believer in sport. If you are competing or interacting with people superior to you in terms of knowledge, quality, skill, you will get better. When you play these Indian footballers against a del Piero or Garcia or (Nicolas) Anelka they will realise where they stand in terms of fitness, quality of football and invariably try and get better," added the former Indian opener.

"We had our team training for a month in Spain with (La Liga champions) Atletico de Madrid. You only get better when you interact with people better than you."

Lately, reports have emerged that very few tickets have been sold for the ISL opener to be played at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC Sunday.

However, Ganguly rubbished the rumours and said the stadium will be full.

"The stadium will be full. Till now 30,000 tickets have been sold. Another 20,000 have to be given away to the police, government, athletes, guests, various clubs, and officials. In any sport, whether it is cricket or football, it is not just the amount of tickets which are bought, equal number of tickets have to be given away," concluded the co-owner of the football club.


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