New partnership aims to transform Maharashtra into hotbed of Indian football
12 Oct 2012
Indian football has secured a significant financial boost with the announcement of a 10-year partnership between the Western India Football Association (WIFA) and private entity Sporting Ace worth Rs 100 crore (US$19 million).
The partnership will see investment channelled into the development of football throughout the state of Maharashtra with the goal of it becoming the centre of the sport in India. “This deal will involve holistic development of football across all verticals,” said WIFA secretary Souter Vaz, according to the Press Trust of India. “Football is popular in all districts of the state and that needs to be channelled. This is what the partnership is capable of achieving.”
As part of the development process, WIFA is planning to introduce an inter-region talent hunting tournament while also resurrecting the 122-year-old Rovers Cup competition, which has lain dormant for the past decade. WIFA said the first edition of the new Rovers Cup will be played in Mumbai from July 27 to August 11, 2013 and will involve top teams from the I-League, along with overseas clubs.
WIFA CEO Henry Menezes has hailed the partnership with Sporting Ace as “a new era in Maharashtra’s football.” He added: “In the past we had signed up partners but there was no road map. Now there is a road map and money is also here to execute the plans. I reckon by the fourth or fifth year (of the deal) Maharashtra will be the leading football playing state in the country.”