The Kolkata franchise of the much-anticipated Indian Super League (ISL) was launched today in the City of Joy. Named Atlético de Kolkata, it was the first franchise to be launched from amongst the eight city franchisees of the Indian Super League. Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Owner Atlético de Madrid launched the team brand along with the four other co-owners of Atlético de Kolkata viz. Ex-India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly; city’s luminaries Sanjiv Goenka (Chairman, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group); Harshavardhan Neotia (Chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group) and Utsav Parekh (Chairman, SMIFS Capital Markets Ltd) with representatives from IMG-Reliance.
Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Owner Atlético de Madrid commented, “Atlético 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 Atlético de Kolkata.”
Marking Atlético’s first international franchise, other key officials including Ignacio Aguillo, Director of Corporate Development, Atlético de Madrid; Emilio Gutierrez, Director of Marketing and International Relations, Atlético de Madrid; Carlos Aguilera Martín, Director of Grassroots and Head of Atlético Academy, and Javier Martínez, Director of Business Development, Atlético de Madrid were also present on the occasion.
The Kolkata Franchise of the Indian Super League will stand for core Bengali values and ethos. However its 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. Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Co-owner, Atlético de Kolkata stated, “Football can bring cultures together and create bonds between countries and people. Atlético de Kolkata stands to unite football lovers under one Kolkata, one Team.”
Staying true to the objective of the League, Atlético de Kolkata will leverage on the over 100-year experience of Atlético de Madrid’s sporting model of academies which enables them recognize and empower talent from the very grassroots. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group, Co-owner, Atlético de Kolkata commented, “Our franchise will not be just a football team. It envisions at being the very nucleus of inclusive and sustainable social development. I firmly believe that sports has a tremendous influence on a region’s cultural ecosystem. Our club will only exemplify this belief and will focus on empowering community through sports.”
Involvement of Atlético in the consortium: Atlético will bring its in-depth knowledge and intellectual property in the football space. It plans to bring their top coaches and management staff to India to train the team in technical ability, game vision, physical capacity and teamwork. It will work on a 360 degree football development plan (including Nutrition and Training) for its talent. The club would be making trips to India to play exhibition games. The Kolkata team franchise management would be enhanced by Atlético de Madrid’s coaches and management staff. As the next steps, Atlético will be sending a scout to gain deeper insights into the style of football being played in the country. This will be followed by the appointment of a coach in the next 2-3 weeks who will work along with an Indian coach. Atlético will bring to Atlético de Kolkata its exhaustive resources from coach, manager, fitness experts, practice matches with its various team as well as training at Madrid.
To conclude Utsav Parekh, Chairman, SMIFS Capital Markets Ltd, Co-owner, Atlético de Kolkata, said, “Our sole objective is to create a new soccer history of our country which originates from the East. Numbers are not so important; it is the passion for football in Kolkata which matters. We want to rekindle and flare up the enthusiasm for the game whose connect dates back to mid 19th century.”