'We’ve extended the relationship with Nike for 7 years' - AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das

Goal.com caught up with the federation official on the sidelines of an event in Delhi where he explained Indian football's relationship with Nike....
Nike kicked off the 2013 edition of the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) in New Delhi on Wednesday. The tournament is Nike's initiative of unearthing young talent in countries where young footballers can pit their wits against the best in the country to vie for a place in the regional finals in Malaysia.

The MUPC, which is held under the aegis of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will witness 20 best I-League and state teams from across India compete to be crowned MUPC India Champions in Goa on May 09th 2013.

The tournament has been one of the stepping stones for some present day football superstars which include the likes of Gérard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) Robinho (Milan); Carlos Tevez (Manchester City); Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) and Fernando Torres (Chelsea).

"Nike have been a long term partner for us. We’ve extended the relationship with them now for 7 years. Besides supplying the kits for the national team, one of the obligations of Nike along with the AIFF is to invest in youth development and grassroot development," said AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das to Goal.com on the sidelines of the event's inauguration which also saw national team coach Wim Koevermans making an appearance.

"MUPC in that way is a very good initiative. We want to make it bigger and more aspiring as we go on. Next year we would want the AIFF academies to come and participate," said Das.

Nike has been one of the few global brands to be associated with Indian football and Das acknowledged the fact and mentioned that unlike most companies, the leading innovator in athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories have kept their promises.

“We really hope that other (partners) come forward and put their money where their mouth is. A lot of
people talk about football and some of things don’t happen always. Great example of this is Pepsi. When
they came out with the ad that says ‘Change the Game’ and they invested 350 crores in IPL (Indian Premier League). Had a little bit of money been kept aside for actually changing the game, it could have helped," he said.

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