Money, apparently, has no borders between Test cricket and Indian Super League (ISL) or Telugu movie industry and Kerala football culture. Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has roped in Telugu actors Chiranjeevi, A Nagarjuna, Allu Arjun and industrialist Aravind Prasad on the board of Kerala Blasters football club, the Kochi-based franchise of ISL, that he owns.
After the rejig in the capital-base of the company, in which he owns 40% stake, Sachin has confirmed his plans to set up a residential football academy in Kerala. Meeting Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at his office, here on Wednesday, he introduced the new co-owners of the company Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna and Aravind Prasad to Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Kerala Blasters football club has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kerala government to develop 100 footballers of international standards in the next five years from the state. “We have made the beginning on the theme of football academy by working with youngsters in 40 schools. But, we found the interest levels are really high,” Sachin said, in a joint press-conference with the CM.
While the state government is counted on to provide infrastructural support for the residential academy, Kerala Blasters club will deliver the technical know-how for running the academy and to scout for talent and nurture them effectively. “We want to take our association with training the football talents to the next level, with better planning and infrastructure,” Tendulkar said.
Meanwhile, Vijayan, in cordial reciprocation, invited the master cricketer to be the brand ambassador in the state’s campaign against liquor and drugs. “Sachin Tendulkar has agreed to the government’s request to use his name in the campaign against drugs and liquor. The details of the agreement will be thrashed out later,” the chief minister said.
The state government has chalked out a comprehensive programme for development of football. The focus would be on identifying the budding stars at a young age and train them, Vijayan said.
At the early days of formation of ISL, two years ago, Sachin had teamed up with Hyderabad-based PVP Ventures to acquire the Kerala franchise. However, Prakash Poturi-owned PVP Ventures landed into financial trouble last year. This had set the grounds for a change in ownership and fresh business plans at Kerala Blasters football club.