Rohit Ramesh, owner of I-League new-entrant Chennai City FC, on Sunday confirmed that his team will be looking to open up opportunities to budding footballers in the state.
“If you look at players such as Dhanpal Ganesh or Dharmaraj Raavanan, they had to move out of the state to get opportunities to play in top-tier football. We hope to change that pattern and offer budding footballers a chance to grow-up within the state,” said Ramesh to Sportstar.
With I-League only a month away, the team will have its work cut out, as it looks to form a balanced side capable of fighting it out in the national-level tournament. “Yes, we will have to work hard. We are already in talks with a few players. You can expect announcements in the coming week. We will be striving to form a well-balanced team with footballers from Tamil Nadu and abroad,” said Ramesh.
The owners took over the Chennai club three years ago and the team has had a steady presence in the Chennai senior division league, winning it in the 2015-16 season. “There is not much gap in terms of quality,” said Ramesh, when quizzed about the difference in Chennai senior division and the I-League. “We have a good side already and we will be looking to improve it. We want to co-exist. We will be investing and fielding teams in football tournaments within the state, while also playing in the I-League.”
The AIFF has a proposed a new league merger, with the I-League to play second fiddle to Indian Super League, but Chennai City owner rejected ideas of any possible partnership with the ISL team from the city. “We are not looking to have a tie-up with Chennaiyin FC as of now. We would like function independently to promote the game in the region,” said Ramesh.
Bengaluru FC has set the bench-mark with club management ever since its inception in 2013, going on two win two I-League titles and reaching the AFC Cup finals. But, Ramesh confirmed that his club will approach the league in a different way. “We look at Bengaluru FC with great respect, but we will have our own model of operation,” said Ramesh.
Though not yet been given a confirmation, Chennai City FC is expected to be free from relegation in the first three seasons in the top-division. The club, which already has academies in Thoothoor (Kanyakumari) and Meenambakkam (Chennai), plans to start another in Madras Christian College, Chennai. The owner also confirmed that the team has culled its partnership with Premier Futsal club Chennai 5s.