The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) finally revealed the ultimate prize that will await the winner of the inaugural season at a star studded event at the Trident Hotel in BKC, Mumbai on Sunday Infront Of Del Piero , Luis Garcia and Pires As Marquee Players Hope ISL Will Revolutionize Indian Football . The dazzling trophy was unveiled by Nita Ambani (Founding Chairperson of Football Sports Development) .
“We wanted to give the Hero Indian Super League a trophy that was worthy of its magnitude”, said Mrs. Ambani as the trophy was presented to the audience at the Trident Hotel . She dedicated the trophy to the youth of India.
“The trophy is detailed to perfection by Indian artisans, thus exemplifying the genius of Indian artistry and world-class craftsmanship. Its ‘made in India’ design embodies our love and passion for this beautiful game and it equally represents our ‘made for world’ aspirations”, she said. The imposing and beautiful cup was certainly the cynosure of all eyes as it was paraded on stage by two burly security men.
Luis García, Atlético de Kolkata’s marquee signing, acknowledged the tremendous passion of the fans in the City of Joy by sharing his recent experiences.
“I am told there is no better place to play football in India than Kolkata. Wherever we go in the city, people are waiting for the ISL to begin. We were in Kolkata for the Durga Puja and the reaction from all the fans has encouraged us no end”, said the Spaniard.
Fredrik Ljungberg declared Mumbai City FC’s ambitions by stating that he was looking forward to the challenge, “I have been overwhelmed by the response I have received ever since I have arrived. We are looking forward to play some good football and come December, we will hopefully have a shot at the title.”
The player-manager of Kerala Blasters FC, David James, was quick to engage in some light-hearted banter with the Swede, “You are not going to win the title this time, Freddie”. The ex-England goalkeeper was quick to stress on the fact that he was encouraged by the tremendous response from the fans.
“I have been in India for two months and I strongly believe that the sport is growing in India. Our co-owner, Sachin Tendulkar who is no less than a god here, strongly believes in the facilitation of an equal level of opportunities across the country. We are trying to achieve that via our grassroots programme”, he stated.
Mikael Silvestre, who will now be seen in Chennaiyin FC colours, was visibly pleased with his team’s preparation and was looking forward to the inaugural edition of the ISL. Shooting a look at Robert Pirès, the former Manchester United and Arsenal defender smiled and said they were almost ready and in a few days will meet FC Goa. “To win it (the trophy), it will be important for us to gel together. We have a lot of foreigners, a lot of youngsters; so it’s important we show good team spirit”, he added.
Host Mark Bolton asked David Trezeguet on what inspired him to take up the ISL adventure to which the FC Pune City marquee player quipped that he wanted to share the wealth of football experience he had. He also reiterated that he has great belief that India can grow into a great footballing nation.
On the other hand, NorthEast United FC’s Joan Capdevila emphasised on how “It’s all about the team coming together and not just individual talent”.
Robert Pirès, the star representing FC Goa, seems to be enjoying his time in India as he stated his desire to discover new things about the country. “For me, it is an adventure. I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning about a new culture”.
On being asked when his great friendship with his ex-Arsenal teammate Freddie Ljungberg will stop now that they are in different teams, the elegant Frenchman quickly replied, “Now!” That had the audience gushing with laughter.
When it comes to football potential in India, Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero believes, “Everything could happen here!” The Delhi Dynamos’ marquee player also shared his dream of “wanting to be an inspiration for young Indian footballers all over the country” and urged his compatriots to do the same.
The ceremony then ended with Ms Nita Ambani and the players posing with the trophy for an extended photo-shoot.The press went crazy trying to capture as many photos as possible , after all its not everyday that you see the worlds best footballers all on one stage , ready to fight it out for the title of Champions of the inaugural Hero Indian Super League.
The Hero Indian Super League kicks off on 12th October 2014 at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium between hosts Atlético de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC.