New Delhi:India's run-up to the Nehru Cup this year has not been the smoothest. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia talked about the injury worries and more importantly infrastructural worries that have hit him in the recent times. Here are some excerpts of the interview...
Do you think sports persons in India just need to be able to deal with infrastructural odds because there will always be some?
I guess so. While playing football for the last 17 years I have experienced lot of difficulties. It's also frustrating to see, in terms of sports in India but I guess you have to deal with it and just try and make your points, and try and see that the government or anybody involved with sports make sure that the infrastucture and development programmes are done sriously, so atleast kids get the oppurtunity to play any sport they want to. Infrastructure is big time lacking. So it's frustrating but you get used to it and any oppurtunity you get you try and get your voice heard and hope that someday somewhere somebody will listen.
You've said that the BCCI giving 25 crores to the AIFF is a good thing, but in some ways would you also say that it is a huge warning as well that there's a complete dearth of sponsors in Indian football?
It is a worrying sign. The game itself has to be marketable for the sponsors. I don't think any corporates will come and do charitable work with any sport. They would want to do something that gives them returns. We can learn from cricket which is a marketable sport. It can take time, but I hope that one day football can be a marketable thing for corporates to come in, and BCCI giving 25 crores is a positive sign because the Indian team has qualified for the Asia Cup for the first time in 25 years, so it'a big step for football and any financial angle coming can only benefit the federationn in terms of building infrastucture as well as preparing the team for 2011.
There's still no resolution is sight as far as your dispute with Mohun Bagan is concerned. Do you think that in some ways you are being victimised because of your star status?
It's very frustrating for me to miss one exhibition match and a club like Mohun Bagan takes a decision 6 month suspension without pay. I can't understand the decision they take just because I missed one friendly match and that too after the season got over. It's even more frustrating that it takes even longer for a decision to be taken and the matter to be solved. It's been 2 months and I am yet to hear from the federation. I think the federation has to be stronger, take decisions faster. This means that players lose out on 2 to 3 months of football and salaries while the decision is being taken.
Nehru cup kicks-off from August 19. What is your message for all the Indian football fans out there?
I can only expect fans in Delhi to come out and support us the way they have been doing. I hope they come in large numbers. As a player and captain of the Indian national team I can tell you that we have had a great preparation and will do our best on the ground. We want to win this championship. It's going to be difficult but I can guarantee on behalf of the team and the players that we will be giving a 110%. We just need all the fans to come and support us on the ground.
Do you follow the EPL? Which is your favourite team?
I do follow English Premier League. I don't watch it very closely, but I do watch and I like watching Arsenal.