Saurav Ganguly
Former cricketer Saurav Ganguly poses with a fooball during a press conference of Indian Super League in KolkataIANS

Former India cricket captain Saurav Ganguly feels that the introduction of the Indian Super League will prove to be a big step in developing the overall football scene in the country.

Having himself struggled to become a professional footballer when he was young, the 42-year-old feels that the ISL will give a good platform to Indian players, who will be given a chance to play with some really talented foreign players.

"It will improve the quality of football and for that the league will be opened up...Hopefully, allowing better players to play with players from our country will improve their game as playing with better quality players does that," Ganguly told ISL's official website.

The prince of Kolkata is the co-owner of Atletico de Kolkata, the team representing his beloved home City.

Although Ganguly's side have a link with defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, the 42-year-old does not feel that this will give them an added advantage over the other ISL sides.

 "Yes, as a brand, maybe, as we are part of Kolkata where football is such a huge sport and we have tied up with Atletico de Madrid who have had such a wonderful year in Europe and Spain," he added.

"So from that point it's great, but until we get the Atletico Madrid players to play for the club, I don't think we are on a better pedestal in terms of football as compared to the other franchise clubs."

Ganguly also explained that he and his side are looking to introduce the "grassroots development programme" so that they can identify some quality players for the national team.

"Also, we have the grassroots development programme where we are going to train players and hope to get some quality players playing in the football World Cup and the national team," added the former India opener.

"Bengal naturally produces quite a few footballers, it's been the football hub of India for quite some time though it now shares that distinction with Goa and Kerala. So hopefully, with the developments and the programmes, we can make a difference."

Admitting that he will be "directly involved" with the team, Ganguly, who was known to be very passionate during his cricketing career, knows there will be a difference between his time as a cricketer and a football owner. 

"See, I'm not directly involved. As a captain I had to be on the field. Here, being a part of the ownership, I'll have to be outside the field. That's the big difference," explained Ganguly.

"There, I could actually make changes on the ground and I was hands on. Here, I'm semi-hands on, because I won't actually be on the ground. But in terms of winning and losing, the passion will be the same, even in terms of getting the best team on the park or in pushing the team, it's not going to change."

Atletico de Kolkata, who managed to secure the signature of former Barcelona and Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia,  will be playing hosts to Pune City in the opening fixture of the inaugural Indian Super League at the Salt Lake Stadium on 12 October.

Also read