Referring to the battering that Chennai took from the torrential rains and the resultant deluge, Chennaiyin FC co-owner Abhishek Bachchan rightfully dedicated his team’s title triumph to the people of the city.
“None of us have gone back home yet for we wanted to share the cup with the people of Chennai first,” he said at the Nehru Stadium on Monday. Also present, was co-owner Vita Dani and some members of the champion squad, basking in the achievement.
“It was heartbreaking for the boys that they were not able to play the first-leg semifinal at the Marina Arena. The team played this tournament for the people of Chennai and the journey would be incomplete if we don’t share the victory with our fans,” he added.
“We would have loved to receive the trophy in front of our fans. But with today’s technology, I think billions of people must have seen us receive the trophy and that’s good enough for us. We hope that next time we play the final in Chennai and also win the trophy,” said Vita Dani.
She said the management never lost hope that the team would clinch it, even when Goa had taken the lead with barely a few minutes left in the match. “We didn’t stop believing especially since there were many games this season in which we had scored in the last few minutes. We delivered in the end.”
Calm and collected
On what made the team special, Abhishek said, “The players are so calm and collected. They’ve taken to the city as if it is their own. They all play from the heart. We are like a family. It’s a very positive squad. That’s what I think, is our secret to success.”
The win augurs well for the development of the sport in the State, he opined. “Once your team is the champion it’s always going to help your cause. So I think winning the ISL is going to be a big boost in terms of public awareness for football in the State and would encourage more youngsters to play football.”
When the issue of Elano’s alleged unruly behaviour was brought up, he said, “We were overwhelmed by what was happening on the field that we couldn’t notice it.”
Asked on whether the suspension of CSK from the IPL would help ISL garner more support, he said, “I see the fan base (of ISL and Chennaiyin FC) growing. It hasn’t got anything to do with IPL.
“ Each sport has the potential to create its own fan base. We have good ambassadors in our squad and if we keep winning, the only way is forward.”
As to his apparent good luck as a franchise owner — he is also the owner of the Jaipur Pink Panthers that won the title in the inaugural edition of the ProKabaddi League — he said, “When I decided to step into sports, I wanted to make a difference. I hope I can do that.
“If we can raise the level of football in India, if we can help professionalise kabaddi, then I feel I would’ve done something.
“As of now, I’m just thankful that the team has given me the opportunity to sit next to the trophy and say that I was a part of the journey.”
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