The Second Division League kicks off from November 14 with eleven teams from different parts of the country taking part, vying for a spot in the I-League.
The Second Division League has been an annual affair but was never part of Chandigarh’s life and culture with no representation. But this time around, with Minerva Academy FC qualifying, the people’s favourite game will be back in the region.
Though its a debut season for Minerva Academy FC, they have been clubbed in the Western Conference with five-time I-League champions Dempo SC, league favourites DSK Shivajians, PIFA FC, Kenkre FC and last season’s runners up, Kashmir FC.
It will be a tough ask for the club but the team is high on confidence after signing some good players from around Punjab and adjoining regions.
“We have managed to build a formidable team and have been training together for over a month now. The team looks good and most importantly boys are confident of a good show,” said head coach Surinder Singh.
The team is now into its last phase of preparations, and as the coach terms it, “it’s icing on the cake” phase as the nitty-gritty of the team is worked upon. The club is scheduled to kick start its campaign against DSK Shivajians in an away match on November 14 at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune before facing Kenkre FC on November 19.
After the two away games, the team would return to host Kashmir FC in its first home match at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on November 29 followed by Dempo SC on December 6.
“We have been compel to play our home matches in Ludhiana as Chandigarh doesn’t have a stadium which fulfils the Licensing Criteria. It’s a big minus point for us as we will not have the backing of our passionate home fans. But still, being the only club from this region, we are still hoping a decent support in Ludhiana as well,” said club director Ranjit Bajaj while urging fans from every part of Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and even Uttarakhand to come and support Minerva Academy FC.
“We are doing everything within our capacity to make Minerva Academy FC the people’s club of the Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand region. This being our first season, we have some limitations and its also a learning experience for us. But we have got a long term plan in place and once the season ends, we will take no time in implementing our grassroots programmes and reaching out to the people of all these regions,” said co-owner Henna Singh.
As of now, the focus is on the Second Division League as the team departs to play its first away match on November 10.