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John Abraham’s royal kick

Abhilasha Ojha 11 Jun 2014

The actor, enthusiastic about the football game in India, has big plans for North East United FC, his newly acquired Guwahati franchise club for the upcoming Indian Super League.

Even though his film on football, De Dana Dan, flopped at the box office some years ago, actor John Abraham, a self confessed fan of the game, is all set to have big plans for his Guwahati franchise club for the upcoming Indian Super League, which is owned and operated by John in partnership with I-League outfit Shillong Lajong FC.

To be sure, Indian Super League is the upcoming football league in India by IMG-Reliance (a joint venture of IMG and Reliance Industries) and the All India Football Federation, which will kick-off in September 2014 and finish its first season in November. In April this year Abraham, and his partners, won the bidding for the Guwahati club.

In what is big news for the game in India, specifically for the NE region, Abraham officially announced the name of his team only recently. Called the 'North East United FC', the franchise will have strategic alliances with four overseas clubs to ensure it remains, what Abraham calls, “the purest football team”. According to him, by naming the team after the entire region, he wanted to project the eight states as a force to reckon with in Indian football.

Abraham’s presence as the co-owner of the football club is significant for the NE region given that the game has many fans in the region. Baichung Bhutia, who is considered the torchbearer of Indian football, is from Sikkim. Then, roughly 70 per cent of the northeastern players make up the Under-19 Indian team. This clearly speaks volumes of the game’s talent in the region.

Clearly, the actor knows just how passionate people in the region are about the game. No surprise then that he focused only on investing in a franchise from the region. "I always had a fascination for football and the north east. When the League’s process started, I decided to have the team Guwahati,” says Abraham. But what if hadn’t got the NE franchise? “We would have stayed away,” he adds.

A firm believer in the talent that exists in north east India, Abraham’s club will have strategic alliances with foreign clubs and four international players of repute. The ultimate objective of owning the football club, says Abraham, is to harness the talent and combine the game’s potential of the region into one team. “We want the club to power Indian football forward,” adds the actor.

Will the club live up to its reputation? Watch this space.

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