The Kolkata franchise of the proposed Indian Super League (ISL) became the first outfit to be unveiled as its name was announced to be 'Atletico de Kolkata' in a press conference held in the home city today.
Miguel Angel Marin, the owner of the Spanish club Atletico Madrid, who also are the co-owners of the outfit, remarked that the club will try to help the game grow in India, as it have done in different capacities in many other countries.
"Atletico Madrid have agreed in the best possible way to make it a great brand. India is a huge nation. Atletico breathes football, lives around football. When some guy said that why we want to do a new franchise I told him that it’s a great idea to expand our brand and reach a new market. India and China are huge markets. We were in Dubai. We met Harsha (Neotia, one co-owner of the outfit) and then we started exploring the real possibility of this project," Marin stated at the event.
"Atletico also collaborates in different countries through the Atletico de Madrid foundation. In India we want to work in different ways, through the academies try to help many kids to enjoy football," he further added.
The official however, made it clear that the Spanish club, who are in contention to win both the La Liga and the Champions League this year, will have the development of the grassroot level on top of their agenda.
"We are trying to learn a new culture, a new religion, local players, new market. It's difficult to adapt to all new customs. I am sure with the help of my partners in a few weeks, in a few months we can help the franchise, to create a good team, a competitive team so that we can compete in the ISL. Some of the kids working in our academy can come with us to Spain. It's my dream that an Indian Professional Footballer will play for Atletico de Madrid," he claimed.
Ignacio Aguillo, the Director of Corporate Development of Atlético de Madrid also stressed that exact point.
"The club has been operating for 111 years. Since the very beginning, the academy has been educating members of the club. We are not a club that has a lot of means like Real Madrid or Barcelona. We come from very humble origins, therefore we have to take care of our people and educate them on the hard work. The performance that the club has had this year is a testament to this," he said.
"We really hope to make and replicate that philosophy here. We want to invest heavily in grassroot football. We will bring in technical staff, scouting. In Kolkata the passion for football is there. If we invest the time, structure and the technical expertise, we know how we can find the gems."
"But not only the gems, this is for forming the individuals. One day we can contribute to bring in Indian football to the place where it belongs, to the global stage. It would be a great accomplishment if some player from Kolkata can come play in Atletico or in Europe," he concluded.
Ignacio was later quizzed by a journalist about his perception on Indian football and what he thinks about the availability of talent here. The Atletico representative sounded confident that his team will be able to find the promising youngsters.
"I come from a financial background, so I am driven by numbers. You have a massive population so if you combine that with discipline and structure, you can have success. In countries that don’t have the sheer numbers that you have here, we have the passion, structure and discipline. There is no reason that India could not be living up to its full potential. That potential is very high because it’s a numbers game at the end of the day. You are guaranteed to have stars at the end of the day if you put your mind to it," he signed off.
The Atletico officials will leave the city on Wednesday night, following two days of dicussion with the other co-owners of the side.