Television

Liverpool FC's - DSK Shivajians - gets shot in the arm with investment of Rs 50 crore

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MUMBAI: With football fever reaching a crescendo with the recently concluded Hero Indian Super League (ISL), the country seems to have fallen in love with the game once again. It definitely has more to do with the rugged game itself rather than its celebrity owners. While foreign clubs have a fair fan share in India right from Man U to Real Madrid and AC Milan, many of them have spotted opportunities and carried out various initiatives in India to further build on this huge supporter base for the game. A case in point is Manchester United and Chelsea, with both conducting clinics in India.



 Not only this, Arsenal too has had multiple training centres in New Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Liverpool, on the other hand, has a tie-up with DSK Shivajians, and has formed India’s first internationally-branded residential football academy, called the Liverpool International Football Academy- DSK Shivajians. “With a total investment of over Rs 50 crore, we are confident that India will experience the international flavour of football,” says LFC International Football Academy, DSK-Shivajians CEO Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy.



The Academy located at Pune, promises to provide aspiring young talent with the right platform to get trained under expert supervision and world-class infrastructure. It has a state-of-the-art 4G pitch, along with a natural turf, self-contained accommodation, gym and swimming pool and a cafeteria serving varied dietary requirements. The Academy thus far has enrolled 64 players from all across India in the Under 17 and Under 19 age groups. They will also be provided group tutorials for core subjects, which aggregate over 660 hours of classes over the year. When asked about the long-term objective of the Academy, Jeejeebhoy informs, “The aim is to give a platform to aspiring talented footballers to train and get direct supervision from two full-time talented coaches from Liverpool FC. We look at it as an opportunity for taking Indian football to international standards.”



About the players and franchise owners, he opines that the League is an excellent platform for Indian talent to get noticed on the international arena and a great opportunity for stakeholders in football across the country to engage with the youth.



“Sponsors get more visibility for their brand due to the sheer magnitude and uniqueness of the event and with the use of modern methods of advertising and marketing in the digital space. The new format does not have a clutter of brands, which ensures the brands that have partnered with the ISL get valuable presence and recall,” he says.



“One of the many ways that the League could be looked at to bring in-stadia spectators closer to the game, would be to invest in refurbishing existing infrastructure and building stadia, where its sheer design and layout allows spectators to be closer to the pitch. This will establish a better connect with the game,” the executive goes on.



Moving on to  Star India, a promoter of the League,  Jeejeebhoy feels the commitment from the Network with prime time spots and live HD telecast, added to the quality of the product. “Over the past couple of years, audiences have shown a growing interest and acceptance in sports as varied as football, motorsports, kabbadi and tennis among others. Boxing also has true potential going forward,” says Jeejeebhoy.



The growing TV viewership for FIFA World Cup and football leagues such as UEFA Europa League from Europe, have shown the increasing popularity of football as a viewership sport in India. The game has always been followed at a regional level and one would hope with the ISL, that the game is accepted across the country.



Concluding on a high note, he is of the opinion that, “with the advent of the ISL and the country hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, it has created a lot of positive buzz around football.”



“It's the very first time that something of this magnitude has been attempted for football in the country, and has generated interest not only from football followers, but also neutrals, who have flocked in large numbers to the stadia. Fans, who erstwhile did not have such an opportunity to watch live matches, have turned up in huge swarms,” he concludes.

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