DSK Shivajians, a professional football club from Pune, have been in the news recently, as they are being touted as one of the two clubs that might be given a direct promotion into the I-League by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, Shirish Kulkarni, Executive Director with DSK, the corporate major that is financing the club’s pursuit of top tier football, gave an insight about the mission of the club and their preparations for their debut in professional football.
Regarding the talk of automatic promotion, Kulkarni revealed, "Yes, we have spoken to AIFF about that particular plan, but nothing on paper yet. I mean they are in the process of finalizing it and I learnt that the decision will be made only in March. But as of now we have only had discussions related to the same.”
The club, which was established in 1987, is taking nothing for granted though, as shown by their recent appointment of Pradhyum Reddy as the head coach. The Executive Director of DSK stressed on how the team was preparing for division 2 qualifiers at the moment, and gave an insight on the plans for the team.“Yes we have appointed Mr. Reddy (to help us in) division 2 as well as division 1, as we have appointed him for three years. The idea is to get into division 2 and then qualify to division 1.”
Regarding the squad, DSK Shivajians are still sketching their initial plans for the roster as Kulkarni stated, “We have one foreign player, a goalkeeper, but he came in before Reddy. So we are looking at 3-to-4 foreign players and some Indian players. Also we are speaking to Pailan Arrows for a few players, but we are still in talks.”
The club owners also have bold plans for a new stadium in Pune, at their campus of DSK Supinfocom, which is on the outskirts of the city.
The DSK Executive Director told Goal.com, “We have the rest of the infrastructure is more or less there and have one field also ready, and the plan is to build two more fields and a full stadium. By April we will start construction. We have anyways secured (the necessary permission to play) at Balewadi any which ways, to satisfy the required AFC's (Asian Football Confederation) criteria for a club.”
Pune FC was the first professional club from the city, and the Red Lizards generally get a gate of 4000 to 5000 at the stadium at Balewadi.
However Kulkarni thinks there is ample space for a second team in the city, and felt Pune FC had not really tapped into the potential for football in the city.
“Absolutely (there is place for a second team). Pune FC doesn’t have a real fan base. Shivajians have been a local team for a very long time, and a number of local talents have come through it and it has grown very well as a club, and it shall work to our benefit,” he concluded.
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