In modern Chennai is mostly linked with cricket, it has produced some of the good players for the national cricket team. The city has one of the consistent IPL cricket team in form of Chennai Super Kings. But now Chennai is about to see a different sports getting played in their own back yard. The state has got own football team which will represent the state in inaugural Hero Indian super league. The Franchise will be owned by Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan and will play their home games on Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Chennai.
The History Of Football in Chennai
The above Tamil phrase means we had a history, now everyone will wonder what history they are talking about. Tamil Nadu has a brief history associating with Indian football. The state has produced player like Syed Sabir Pasha who not only made the Tamils proud but also was part of Indian national football team on number of occasions. The athlete with his skillful display on the football field made everyone noticed the talent the state had to offer. Kalia Kulothungan was other start of Tamil football that just showed us the glimpse of the potential of the state.
The state even had few clubs who have played in the national competition like National football league. Indian Bank is one club which put on some impressive shows on the national level in various competitions. The club had their fair share in the national league in early 2000’s.
Since the exit of Indian Bank from national football league the state did not had single representation in the national level tournaments. The local players were finding it very difficult to get noticed with lack of opportunities in the state. Despite having some solid performances in the Santosh Trophy the players in the state was not getting enough opportunity to put their case for the national team. There was a glimmer of hope in form of N. Mohanraj or Dhanpal Ganeshan but state lacked basic level of football structure to produce more of such players.
Club Chennai– The Hope
The city and the state now have a club which they can call their own. Club Chennai owned by Abhishek Bachchan will be representing people of the Chennai in the Indian Super league. It was bit of fortunate for the city which was originally kept out of the league by the organizers. The Bengaluru Franchise which was supposed to be owned by Sun Group decided to pull out and that turned out to be blessing for the people of the Chennai. The Franchise will be managed by Italian World cupper Marco Materazzi. The franchise had made some name for them when they were linked with Roanaldinho but deal fall off when Brazilian chose to join Mexican club.
The franchise has done some decent business in both International as well as domestic draft. The Indian players in the draft were picked up by Sun Group representative before they had pulled out from the league. The franchise has likes of Gouramangi Singh, Jeje, and P. Pradeep, who has represented India. They have some exciting young talent in form of Dane Pereira and Jayesh Rane. Both the youngster has talent to make their way in the national team. The team has mix of experience Indian players and some exciting young talent.
Club Chennai was represented by Kshtriya Sports and Playon skills in the International players draft and they did justice to their job. They picked former Manchester United player Bojan Djordjic who represented Sweden at the junior level for few matches. The French International Bernard Mendy was star attraction in the draft and Chennai was lucky one to pick him. They have put faith on Colombian international Jairo Suarez to provide them with solidity at the back. Spanish winger Christian Hidalgo will provide much needed thrust upfront and will be well supported by Young Bruno Pelissari. Spainiard Eduardo Lerma and Italian Gennaro Bracingliano were other picks from the draft.
SWOT – Club Chennai
- Untapped market, Chennai yet to get exploited by sports other than Cricket and just like some of the other regions in the country the city is hungry for other sports than cricket.
- Club Chennai will be only South Indian representative in the Indian super league and that can work for them to get some loyalty from south Indian peoples.
- Unknown territory for football, there has been few clubs and local leagues which have failed miserable to attract fans.
- Lack of local star in the franchise which could have helped people to connect easily.
- Club Chennai have opportunity to be first sports club to provide people of Chennai some alternative to cricket.
- Chennai have major fan following for European leagues and something like ISL will be well accepted.
- Strong presence of Chennai Super Kings in the region.
- Politicization of sports has been common in some of the states and franchise at nascent stage has to tackle this.
Club Chennai certainly have raised the hopes of millions of people in Tamil Nadu. The franchise has lot of potential if they are able to exploit the opportunity given to them. They will be short of preparation for this season and will have to work their socks out to able to put mark in the league. It will be fantastic to see how people in the Chennai react to the league and the Club Chennai “Anaittu Ciranta Cennai”