By Nilanjan Datta,
The advent of two new Clubs for the 2013-14 edition of the I-League has been a significant development in Indian Domestic Football. With the pre-season knocking at the door, it’s a race against time for Bangalore-based Club JSW. In a freewheeling interview to www.the-aiff.com, Mustafa Ghouse, CEO, JSW Sports speaks at length about his Club’s Philosophy, the future plans, building the fan base, the future squad and much more. EXCERPTS:
What prompted JSW to venture into the I-League?
Football is one of the fastest growing sport in the country with an ever increasing fan-base. As football lovers, there was always a desire to be associated with the sport. The bidding process initiated by All India Football Federation was an interesting one and it provided us an opportunity which we were keen to explore.
Explain to us the philosophy of JSW.
Sports stay an integral part of our culture and we have been promoting it at the youth level for long. We intend to carry forward the same philosophy and build upon it. There’s an abundance of talent in India who needs to be nurtured for them to excel in the near future.
Very few stay aware that JSW have their own Academies too where sportspersons from various other disciplines are presently being trained.
How do you intend to become a Household name as far as Indian Football is concerned?
Commercially speaking, there’s enormous potential as far as the I-League is concerned. We appreciate the efforts being made by AIFF. At the same time we are optimistic that we can do our bit as well to simultaneously increase the standards of the I-League and our Team.
How do you plan to get back the revenue which you will be investing?
We are working on our business model and are looking at various options which would help us to be commercially viable and sustainable in years to come.
Building a team from scratch is not a matter of joke. With the pre-season knocking at the door, how far have you been able to rope in your staff and players?
The process is on and we are working hard to be ready in time for the pre-season to kick-off.
But we haven’t heard anything on Player’s signings as yet.
Like I said, it’s an ongoing process and we will surely make an announcement as and when we are ready.
Will Community Development stay on your priority list?
Community development will always stay on our priority list. As a Group, the JSW Foundation is into a lot of CSR activities and we will be using their expertise over the same. We will start in Bangalore and then spread it on a pan-Indian scale.
How much confident are you of building a fan base for the Club? Will JSW explore the opportunities involving Merchandising?
We are pretty confident. Bangalore is known to be a football loving city. Considering the fact that it has been a while since a team from Bangalore has participated in the I-League, we are hopeful that the City will rally behind us.
I feel it’s still early days for sports merchandising in India. We will eventually venture into it but not right now.