Saturday, June 3, 2023

Former India stars Steven, Godfrey planning franchise league

Football rivalries have traditionally always been region based, be it international contests, inter-state affairs or inter-city derbies.

In a bid to harness this potential, a couple of former India players are planning an inter-region franchise-based five-a-side tournament in

Notable names

Former India vice-captain Godfrey Pereira and star forward Steven Dias along with former Maharashtra captain Vijith Shetty are planning what will be known as the Mumbai Rink Football League (MRFL), set to kick off in the summer vacation period of May.

“Mumbai has some talented football pockets like Borivli, Malad, Bandra, Dadar, Colaba, etc, and the rivalries between players from these areas is pretty intense. The idea was first mooted to me a few months ago by my friend, Denver Fonseca, who hails from a corporate background and is a football fanatic. He mentioned to me the need for a professionally organised league in Mumbai based on these rivalries. We want to rope in small business outlets and sports enthusiasts as team owners, who can purchase franchises named after these areas. So, the matches will be Malad v Bandra, Dadar v Colaba, and so on, making things very interesting,” Dias told mid-day.

Pereira explained that the competition will encompass different age groups. “Besides a men’s open league, MRFL will also have a veteran men’s league, a women’s open competition and a boys U-18 tournament. We want maximum participation from all football-playing Mumbaikars,” said Pereira.

High returns

The participation will obviously come at a cost. “We are planning to price the men’s open franchises at around Rs 1 lakh, the men’s veteran franchises at Rs 50,000 and the women’s and boys’ franchises at approximately Rs 25,000 each. Cash prizes will also be correspondingly high. The men’s open champions stand to gain R4 lakh while the veterans winners will receive Rs 3 lakh.

Godfrey Pereira inaugrates free football coaching camps

Runner-up teams and winners of the other leagues will also receive hefty purses with the total cash prize crossing one million rupees,” Shetty explained.

Both Dias and Pereira believe MRFL will bridge the gap between sports and entertainment in football. “Our website [mrfl.in] is already up and running as are our social media handles which will carry all match results, player interviews and other details. In future, MRFL plans to build a carnival-like atmosphere where spectators can gather to not just watch intense football contests, but also to enjoy some food and entertainment activities which we will organise on the sidelines. Franchise owners can also avail some space for fan engagement or customer interaction at the tournament venue,” concluded Dias.

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