Television

We will break even in 2-4 years, says FC Goa’s Shrinivas Dempo

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MUMBAI:  Think Goa, and the imagery that one gets is that of sun kissed beaches and churches. Well, Goa is much more. While Sunday afternoons are a  siesta time for many, villages here come alive with sports fans coming together to organise and participate in what seems to be Goa’s first love - football.

Local clubs like the Dempo’s, Salgaocar’s and Churchill Brothers are known names, which through years of play and support from their respective owners, have become a household name in the state. However, now the fan base is set to expand, thanks to the upcoming Hero Indian super League. With eight teams from across the country gearing up, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Goa too has a franchise called FC Goa.

Owned by Dempo Group of Companies chairman Shrinivas Dempo, VM Salgaocar and Brothers managing director Dattaraj V Salgaocar, Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot and cricketer Virat Kohli, FC Goa is geared up for the tournament.

The club has global football legends as part of its team. Arthur Antunes Coimbra better known as Zico is their marquee coach. Zico has been a part of three world cups playing for his national team Brazil. Former Arsenal star Robert Pires is the team’s marquee player.

Dempo, a well known businessman, is a massive football fan and is also the vice president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). He is of the opinion that the league promoted by Star, IMG-Reliance and AIFF has come at the right time. He explains with an example, “Youngsters today, do not wear cricket jerseys. They wear jerseys of Arsenal and Chelsea. We need to convert these youngsters to home grown players.”

When asked why the football fever hasn’t caught up in the country despite a format like the I-League already existing, he explains, “We were always in a dilemma why people were not taking to the I-League.  And we felt it was the egg and chicken story.  It was quality and marketing that was required and I think the ISL has provided that platform.”

At the international draft of the ISL, FC Goa proved to be the most generous as it spent Rs 2.46 crore on seven players. “It’s a high cost game. We are ready to invest money and in a few years see the returns. We will break even in three to four years” he adds.

In terms of infrastructure Dempo feels that Goa has the best infrastructure in the country but still there is a lot to be done.  The club wants to have a stadium of its own but currently will be utilising the government-owned Fatorda stadium in south Goa.

Speaking about Kohli acquiring a stake in the team, he informs that it was the cricketer who had approached them a few months back. He says that the cricketer will be an asset to them as he represents sports passion and is a youth icon.

Dempo says “We have got professional people to run the team. We will be there from a policy perspective and advisory role.”

Speaking further on Stars role to telecast the ISL matches in five languages, he finds it a very good move which will help the game to penetrate the market. “The quality of coverage of the I-League is really not up to the mark, but here we will get the best of coverage” he adds. He also feels that the I-League will not become what the Ranji trophy has become because of the IPL. The 45 year old says, “The I-League is the core competition and we will continue with it.”

The team will be investing money to widen and enlarge the reach of the game in Goa. For this, it will be targeting more schools and under the guidance of Zico and assistant coach Arthur Papas, a scientific programme and high-pitched grassroots programme targeting youngsters from nine years onwards is being sketched out.

FC Goa had announced its principal sponsor as Videocon D2H and kit partner as Adidas. It is also looking at local sponsorships ahead of the kickoff on 12 October. Videocon d2h will also be launching a new channel on its direct-to-home platform centering on the team. A magazine for fans too is slated to be launched.

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