Former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly was on Wednesday unveiled as the ambassador of the Zee Bangla Under-19 Football League which will be held from May 26-June 23.Also Read - FIFA Sets Deadline For AIFF Constitution Approval; Elections Need to be Held By September 15
“I just want to involve in whichever capacity I can. I cannot play anymore. So it’s about just being involved in the promotion of the game,” Ganguly said of the upcoming league which is supported by Indian Football Association. Also Read - Indian Football: Promotion/Relegation to be Introduced From 2022-23 Season Between ISL and I-League Clubs- Report
Ganguly hoped the league will develop football at the grassroots level and help in unearthing hidden talents. Also Read - FIFA Rankings: India Football Team Jump Two Places to 104
“Grassroots is most important in any sport. Look at (Virat) Kohli, (Prithvi) Shaw or (Rishabh) Pant. They all have come from U-19 level. Kohli was India’s U-19 World Cup winning captain. Myself, Sachin and Rahul too have played. That’s the base. That will always be a huge stepping for any sportsperson,” Ganguly said while hailing the initiative.
“People don’t know who is an administrator, but people always remember the likes of Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar. Football has to create successful role models and that can only be players. In spite of being a CAB president, I will still say no administrator can run the game if the players are not there.”
Four city teams — Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Aryan — will compete against top teams from 16 districts in the upcoming league which will be held under lights at Mohun Bagan ground.
The teams will be divided into four groups and the top teams will make the semifinals.
IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli said that the league will not affect the historical IFA Shield which has been reduced to an under-19 format.