Indian Football is just about Bengal and Goa is a common Cliché. The Indian football community always has been concerned about I-League being played in very few parts of the country and not getting a Pan India look. A 6 years old club has taken the responsibility to change the things in India football. Pune FC a club owned by the Ashok Piramal Group has set a new benchmark in Indian Football. Pune was nowhere on the map of Indian football few years back, but this club has made Pune a household name of Indian Football community.
Start Wide, Expand Further, And Never Look Back!!!
India is known as a cricket crazy country, the fans, the media, and the celebrities almost all of them are crazy behind the cricket. Apart from states like Goa, West Bengal and the North East where Football is played on a professional level, it is just a leisure time sport for the rest of the country. There are a fews clubs in Mumbai but they have failed to create a substantial impact.
Even if the clubs in Goa, Bengal and North East pay players huge amount of salaries, have tons of fans, they are finding hard to earn revenue. This is one of the reasons that investors feel better to invest in cricket than football. Due to the above reasons, corporate houses in India were reluctant to start a football club in India
Ashok Piramals Group of company which has a business established in Pune had something else in mind. The company went against the odds and decided to take a gamble of starting a professional club in Pune. Pune is not known for its football and many believed the club would remain in the local district league but the owners had some other ideas. First they named the club after city and gave people something to cheer in football. The administrative department of the club had enthusiastic people working to make this club known to the country and their handwork finally seemed to have paid off
Not This Year But Definitely Next Year
Pune Football Club which is among a few clubs in India named after the city was founded in 2007. The club initially buildt the team around few unknown talents and participated in I-League second division in 2008. The club showed lots of promise and were able to give a good account of themselves in Group A where they were clubbed with reputed names like Vasco SC, ONGC, HAL, SBT, Chirag United SC. Despite a good performance in their first season in I-League second division the club failed to earn promotion and finished third in their group.
The Red Lizards again participate following year, now better prepared and hunger to earn promotion. There were four slots to grab the place in I-League which was getting expanded. The club played a good brand of football and made sure that they were one of the team to get into the next edition of I-league. Pune FC made history by becoming the first club from Pune to get promoted to play in the top flight of Indian football.
We Do It In Style.
Pune FC was quick to make headlines as soon as they earned promotion. The Red Lizards grabbed fans’ attention when they signed India’s no 1 goal keeper Subrata Paul. The Club did not just stop there, they signed big names like Arata Azumi, and Edmar Figueira who then went on to play in Primeira Liga, Portuguese top division league. The club needs a good leader to take them forward and the club kept their faith in leadership of experienced coach Derrick Pereira. Derrick had huge experience of Indian football and coaching big names such as Mahidra United with whom he went on to win the National Football League, Federation cup and reached Knock out rounds of AFC cup.
Pune FC did not just remained tigers on Paper but made a big statement in their first I-League season. The Red Lizards stunned a lot of heavy weight and gained a lot of press around the country. The club finished third which we could a call dream season for any club playing their first season among the big boys. The club since then have remained among the top table clubs and grown from strength to strength.
We think of our future.
Indian clubs are known just to sign few big names of Indian football and add some foreign players to the roster and go out there to win the league. This attitude of club to spend more on first team players has been criticized heavily in Indian football fraternity. The clubs have failed to understand the importance of proper youth system and that could be one of the reasons of the financial losses they are facing.
Pune FC was quick to understand the importance of good youth system. The club realized the importance of a proper academy and the dynamics involved around it. The club opened their academy in 2011. The academy was revolved around the themes of age group such as U-17 and U-19. The academy made a name for itself when the academy boys played in I-League Junior League. The Pune FC Academy has been the talking point in the competition winning it back to back for last 2 years. The academy has reaped great dividends with four of the academy graduates making it to the first team for the coming season. One of the academy graduate Dhanpal Ghanesham played for the India U-22 team in the AFC U-22 qualifiers and recently Fanai Lalrampuia made it to the Indian U-19 team which would play in AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers in Qatar later this year.
The club has decided to focus more on the youth system and have added U-15 and U-10 team. The Pune FC Academy certainly gives a lot of hope to Indian fans to see some young talent emerging from the academy. The success of the academy will only inspire other clubs to start their own academy and groom young talent.
Who Are We….. PFC!!!!
Pune Football Club has been a pioneer in Indian football to work off the field. The club has been proactive off the field in engaging with fans and taking good care of fans since their inception. The club has been engaging with fans in several malls and shopping complex in the city, and making them aware about the club in the city.
The Red Lizards have generated a decent number of fans in a short spell of time and a lot of the fans, a lot of whom are very young, which a good sign is for the future of the club. The Slogan “Who Are We…. PFC” is getting louder with each passing day.
The Club has also become a first Indian club to start a You Tube Channel “PFCTV” The channel uploads news, match highlights and interview of the players and Coaches of the club. The Channel has certainly helped Pune FC to earn some fans.
Pune FC certainly has raised the level of professionalism in Indian Football. The club was only club to get a National License and AFC A club license. India certainly needs other Indian club to follow Pune FC Model which will give us hope for better a Indian Football future.