SPORTS Abhishek Bachchan on his plans to help Indian football gain a following
Charity has always bridged gaps, brought people together and helped to join hands for a cause. This time it has brought together Indian cricketers as All Heart Football Club and Bollywood celebrities as All Stars Football Club. This is an initiative to play for the Magic Bus Foundation, a non-profit organisation. The two teams are captained by Virat Kohli and Abhishek Bachchan respectively. Abhishek was recently in Delhi to unveil the trophy. Here he shares his views on the game, his team’s effort and popularising football in India.
Are you much of a footballer?
I love football and I’m a fan of the Chelsea Club. But I’ve never played this game before, though I love watching it.
Are you undergoing training for the tournament?
We have been training for the last six months and play every weekend when the whole team comes together for practice. We have a coach, do some drills, and train for about two hours and eventually play a full 90-minute match. However, we are not under any false illusions because our opponents are the finest athletes in the country. Plus the kind of fitness or training they have, it would be very difficult for us to be at that level. But we are going to give our best. Where we lack in skill, we make up for in passion.
How did you get connected with the project?
I’ve been looking for a way to work with football and popularise it. Also, I work very closely with Chelsea to support their Asian Soccer Star programme, which finds some very talented football players and takes them to the academy to train. I was thinking all about this and how to bring the game more into the limelight. And together with Bunty Walia, we put this team together. This tournament is like a passion project for me.
But why sports?
I’m a sports fan and in my school days I used to play basketball, was in the skiing team, athletics, high jump — and till date firmly believe that sports is a great teacher for life. There are a lot of lessons you can learn through sports, and I really believe that a sport should be an integral part of the curriculum.
How do you plan to popularise football among the youth, considering this is a cricket-loving nation?
Through initiatives like the current tournament we can at least start. I would like to thank cricketer Virat Kohli and his foundation for getting the Indian cricket team to help us in our mission. And this isn’t going to be the only one; we are going to play lots of matches. I also think that in our country when we see people who are known, doing something, we’d like to believe that it can have a positive impact and start a trend.
Yes, we are a cricket-loving nation and I love cricket as well, and I hope through football we can do something similar. Also, I think football is an immensely popular game among Indian youth today, and believe that very soon we might have an Indian team qualifying for the World Cup. I think it is a sport that is on the rise.
We are not under any false illusions because our opponents are the finest athletes in the country