Dhoni is ISL team Chennaiyin FC co-owner

MS Dhoni, co-owner of Chennaiyin FC addressing the media in Chennai on Monday. Photo: V. Ganesan  

Indian cricket captain and the face of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Mahendra Singh Dhoni, further enhanced his appeal among the city’s sports fans after he was announced as a co-owner of the Indian Super League franchise Chennaiyin FC here on Monday. “I am fortunate to get associated with the team,” said Dhoni. “I have played seven years of Indian Premier League (IPL) from this city. It would have been emotionally difficult if I had been associated with other teams like Mumbai or Kolkata. So I am glad to be a part of it.”

“Almost everyone in India knows that I started off as a footballer (goalkeeper). This was one opportunity to get associated with football.”

With city-based leagues being in vogue across sports, Dhoni, as captain of the most successful IPL team, sought to draw parallels with the highly popular cricket league. ISL, like the IPL, involves a heady mix of foreign and Indian talent and Dhoni said it was an opportunity for young Indians to learn from world-class players.

“The sport is different. But the format is quite similar. When CSK was formed, we also had foreign players. It helped us understand different cultures. I feel our Indian footballers should look up to these international stars and learn from the different footballing styles that they bring in.’’ As someone with rich experience in team building, both at the national level and in the IPL, Dhoni said that the team that gels best will come out successful.

“Players play better football at clubs than with countries as they spend a lot of time together. So, that will be the biggest challenge. To have the best dressing room atmosphere.”

“Also [with me being the co-owner] I can share some of my experiences with youngsters. Because pressure is something that’s the same irrespective of the sport.”

Dhoni also felt that the league can build a base from where players can emerge in the future.

“A lot of emphasis will be on developing the grass-roots game. When you talk to the younger generation, they discuss a lot about different leagues in the world. So the awareness is there. This [league] can prompt them to come out and play.”

After terming the league as one which has all the qualities to be as successful as the IPL, Dhoni urged the fans to get behind the team just like they support CSK. “After all, the one thing that a sportsperson needs is a chance to perform in front of packed houses.”

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 6:58:35 AM |

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