The Kolkata franchise of the much-anticipated Indian Super League was launched in the city on Wednesday. Named Atletico de Kolkata, it is the first franchise to be launched from amongst the eight city franchises of the inaugural ISL scheduled later this year. Miguel Angel Gil Marin, owner Atletico de Madrid, launched the team brand alongwith the four co-owners of the team -- former Indian Test skipper Sourav Ganguly and top city businessmen Sanjiv Goenka, Harshavardhan Neotia and Utsav Parekh. (Also read: When Sachin, Sourav began a new innings in football)
Marin said: "Atletico is very excited at the prospect of creating connection with one of the largest demographics for football globally. Our joint ownership of the club is testimony to our commitment to the Kolkata franchise of Indian Super League. Through this franchise, the club will work to improve the game in India and help design a series of sports centric growth models. We will utilize our athletic and management expertise in promoting sports and developing Atletico de Kolkata." (Related: Sachin can't play football, will teach him, says Ganguly)
Ganguly, whose love for football is common knowledge, will be the star attraction of a team that aims to bring in top international stars to fire the imagination of the normally soccer-loving Bengali. It's modus operandi will be designed to attract the larger base of audiences from the East with its mix of international influence and Kolkata's natural position as the epicenter of the region. Goenka, chairman RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, said: "Football can bring cultures together and create bonds between countries and people. Atletico de Kolkata stands to unite football lovers under one Kolkata, one Team."
Staying true to the objective of the League, the Kolkata franchise plans to leverage the over 100-year experience of Madrid's sporting model of academies which enables them recognize and empower talent from the very grassroots. How it will impact growth of Indian football only time will tell.
Ganguly said: "Our Club will try and bring together the best talent to form a team with the driving thought of 'playing to win'. Kolkata has been central to football in our country and our objective is to ensure that we regain that position."