Parth Jindal: Like-minded corporates needed for I-League’s popularity

The Jindal scion stated that the biggest impact can be made on Indian football by owning a club in the I-League…

Parth Jindal, CEO of Bengaluru FC, speaks on a plethora of topics ranging from why they chose to invest in the I-League to their ambition of seeing India lock horns with the best in the business.

Here are the excerpts:

You have an academy being set-up at Vijayanagar. Could you share some insights on the model you are following?

We are setting up a residential academy in Vijayanagar. Not only for football, but we are also doing it for five Olympic sports: Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Swimming and Athletics. So, it’s going to be a complete games village you can call it where the players will be schooled. Our model is very simple. We want to tap the talent at the grassroots level and make sure that we mould and groom them with best facilities that India has and one of the best in the world. So, that’s the dream.

Would you be moving to the outskirts of Bangalore given that Kanteerava Stadium, where you will be playing your matches next season is owned by the state government who can, at any time ask you to vacate. What’s your plan for that?

We are already looking at that. We are looking at having practice facilities on the outskirts of Bangalore. We have an agreement with the stadium (Kanteerava) for next season in place so I don’t think that would be a challenge. Obviously the end goal is to redevelop the Bangalore football stadium and make it a world class facility; hopefully in time for the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017.

Do you plan to makeover the Kanteerava Stadium for next season?

I am not aware of that. I am not (directly) involved in that. Yes, but I do believe that they will be sprucing up the Kanteerava stadium. We will be sprucing up the stadium for sure in order to be ready for the I-League. After what we did at the Bangalore football stadium and we don’t want fans to get anything which not as good as that.

Football has been pretty dominant in Bangalore for quite some time now. Despite having your headquarters in Mumbai, what made you chose Bangalore for a football club?

JSW as a company, has a large presence in Karnataka. My father also grew up in Bangalore. So, you know as a company having the largest presence in Karnataka and Bangalore being the capital, it made sense for us. Also Bangalore has a huge football culture. Manchester United fans, Arsenal fans, you will find them in millions here and it’s a very young population. So, we knew that hopefully if we do things right, we will get right support from the Bangaloreans. As the stadium turn out shows, we have managed to do that well.

Could you share the latest update with regards to the upgradation work of the Bangalore Football Stadium?

It is true that we are obligated to redo the stadium and we are totally committed to it. Right now the approvals are pending from the state government. As soon as we get the green signal from the state government work will commence. I heard that the file has already moved and we hope to hear the good news post the elections.  

Do you think more corporates must invest in the I-League?

I think whoever does it, be it corporate or individuals, whoever comes in for the I-League, the most important thing in order for the I-League’s popularity to grow is to have more like-minded individuals. We were doing it in order to enhance Indian football. For us the end goal is to see India qualifying for the World Cup and we feel that the best way in order to make the biggest impact is through owning a club like Bengaluru FC. So, if more people come in with that mindset, I think Indian football can one day be locking horns with some of the big guns in the world.

So in your opinion, more corporates joining the I-League bandwagon would aid its popularity?

I think that will definitely help the I-league. If more professionals start coming in the league, it will be great. Channelizing the fans, making the fans feel that you know this club is worth supporting and worth following. I think this can only be good for the game.