Abhishek Bachchan is not only a movie star on his own right but also a sports entrepreneur. The Bollywood star has a Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) franchise in Jaipur Pink Panthers and is a co-owner of the Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Chennaiyin FC.
The ISL, which is only four seasons old, is set to be a viable option for investors, opines Bachchan.
"ISL is a brand that’s growing leaps and bounds. Both PKL and ISL are going to be lucrative. Kabaddi already is. ISL is going to be very soon," stated Bachchan.
Apart from the financial side of things, the Marina Machans have been enjoying a lot of success on the field. They have just won their second title and have embarked on the journey to defend it. As co-owner, Abhishek feels that the management has done everything they can to ensure coach John Gregory has all the tools to pull it off.
"We wanna put together a championship winning squad. We’ve definitely tried to do that. Now, let’s see how the season pans out," he said.
Chennaiyin have also qualified for the AFC Cup qualifiers after their ISL win last season and Abhishek is overjoyed by that development.
"AFC Cup meant a lot to us. It is a tournament we wanted to be playing. We needed to do everything to qualify. We did that and got our license. Now we want to win as many matches as possible."
The 42-year-old is also hopeful that John Gregory, who led the team to the title last season, continues with the club for the foreseeable future.
"I think continuity is very important. John is like a father figure to the boys. Vita Dani (co-owner) and I love him. God willing, we would love to see John be a part of the squad for a very long time.
Abhishek also takes pride in Chennaiyin FC's track record in fast-tracking youngsters through to the first team, with the likes of Anirudh Thapa and Jerry Lalrinzuala already integral parts of the team.
"Our club ethos is that youngsters should come through to the main team. We debuted youngsters like Jerry and Thapa. It is something that we take a lot of pride in. A lot of players these days feel that Chennaiyin gives you a chance if you’re good enough. It's not just talking. We do that. I’m happy that we’re able to execute that.
On that count, Chennaiyin FC has also put a lot of focus on their youth teams.
"We’re very happy with our progress. A lot of our youth teams are doing well. Vita and I spend a lot of time with them. We can’t wait to see them play in the main team in the future."
The actor is a constant presence at Chennaiyin FC home games and is a passionate follower of the game. The fans can expect to see him at the Marina Arena this season as well.
"Of course, 100 per cent, I will be present at the home games. I missed just one game last season. I'm not just the owner but I’m also the club’s number one fan."