After much delibration and powwow, the Deccan city of Pune will remain on the map of the I-League. The immense chasm left by the exits of Pune FC and Bharat FC is to be filled by the DSK Group owned DSK Shivajians, in the 2015/16 edition of India's premier football tournament.
As Goal had exclusively revealed, the disbanding of the Red Lizards' as well as the Lions' first teams had resulted in a void of the Information Technology (IT) Hub's representation in the first division but talks had been on-going between the Shivajians and All India Football Federation (AIFF) representatives for direct entry into the I-League for a team from Pune, in the 2015/16 season. It is learnt the club have gained entry in to the I-League via the corporate bidding process, the same way Bharat FC came into existence.
DSK run an acclaimed academy with assistance from the British club Liverpool in the Maratha stronghold and are a team who used to participate in the second division I-League using players from their own roost. The on-going U18 I-League has revealed the true prowess of the club as well, with players like Lallianzuala and Mawihmingthanga showing their worth.
"We are really excited to be a part of the Hero I-League and we look forward to competing with all the big clubs of Indian football. We know its going to be a big challenge for us but we have full confidence in our own abilities," revealed a proud DSK Shivajians President, Shirish Kulkarni, on his team's confirmation in the league.
CEO of the club, Adeshir Jeejeebhoy claimed, "For us the grassroot programme is very important in identifying the youngsters first and letting them play the game at a participation level. From there, if we can identify certain talent which comes through, we can nurture them over the years and it would be a natural progression for those talents into our senior team, which is something we hope to build," on the club's on-going dedication to talent development and clear focus on the long-term impact of their arrival into the league.
The Shivajians were a club that had been founded in the year 1987, however it was only in 2010 that it was taken over by the DSK group. With a view to compete nationally, the club's board asked the AIFF to consider early entry into the league in 2013, wbut were asked to participate in the second division of the I-League for promotion.
The club nearly achieved promotion at the first time of asking itself, but were thwarted by Rangdajied United in the final round, as they failed toearn a top two finish. However, the club are second time lucky with their arrival into the I-League rubber stamped by the AIFF. The club are currently coached by former Pune FC and Salgaocar gaffer, Derrick Pereira.
"We are glad that DSK Shivajians have come up with a bid to join the Hero I-League. They have made a very good presentation about their work on grassroots, youth development and the DSK Shivajians' Liverpool Academy. Although some minor formalities are remaining, their entry in the Hero I-League will ensure a representation from Pune," revealed a joyous Kushal Das, general secretary of the AIFF, on the developments.