A few weeks ago South United FC was launched as a new professional football club in Bangalore by Mumbai-based Lokko Sports India Pvt. Ltd. I caught-up with Lokko Sports CEO Lokknath R. Char to speak about South United FC and the owners aim for the club and Indian football.
Congratulations on the formation of South United FC! Why SUFC and why did you chose Bangalore as your base when your company is based in Mumbai?
The name South United was created to signify our determination to be the most loved team, first in Bangalore, Karnataka, then all over the Southern India region. The Indian (national football) team has in the past been benefited by the fantastic talent of Southern Footballers – Raman Vijayan, I.M. Vijayan, Carlton Chapman, S. Venkatesh, N.S. Manju and these guys have performed and served the country so well, and all this with arguably private and big teams with lot of hope coming in and going out. We want this to be the team of the South and while we do not want to make any promises but we are here to stay and here to stay for a very very long time. On our travels to Bangalore for work, we started noticing the growing passion for football there matched by the lack of any private teams. Also, the large expat population coupled with it being a city growing with wealth and much better Sporting infrastructure than other metros, particularly Mumbai. Along with this, the fact that Mumbai has 4 teams and Bangalore no private team also helped. Hence, we thought better now before someone else wakes up to the idea.
How has the response been so far after announcing the launch of the club?
To be honest, there has been a lot of excitement and curiosity about who we are (because we are quite a secretive bunch) and like you rightly asked, why now in Indian football and why Bangalore. But what the heart drives can’t have much logic. At the same time, there have been some sceptics in the press largely due to the fact that teams have come with a bang in the South and gone. Also, some people think our ideas are a little idealistic so that has raised eyebrows, which is fair. Until we achieve and prove ourselves, the questions have every right to be asked.
On a more lighter a note, our pink jerseys got a few blushes and squirms as well, but that just shows we are doing things differently.
What do you aim to achieve in Indian football?
The two main aims are to get the Indian (national football) team into the World Cup by helping them with a great bunch of talent. The second is to create employment within the sporting industries for our youngsters.
See, one of the biggest reasons why India has not done well in sports over the years is because our best sports persons leave the sport at a certain age when the pressures and burdens of managing expenses and contributing to their family income take over. Also, India is largely an academically inclined population. By that I mean sports and other extra curricular activities such as art, music and crafts are not given as much importance both in society and in schools. So sometimes, or to be honest often, kids who are good in things apart from academics but weak at academics are not given enough support and buckle under pressure from guardians and peers. This sometimes leaves these talented individuals with low self esteem. We need to change that by showing them that life can be good and fruitful in other industries too.
Hence, through this club and through our network of soccer schools and other related activities, we would like to pay for footballers, coaches and managers to do what they love and what they do best, that is sport!
What are the aims for this season for South United FC?
Our aim is to put up a good show and bring a trophy in. Also there is a certain type of play we want to create. Maybe this season you probably will see a glimpse of it, but once these players play together more, it will be more visible. Also, we want to ensure our base and our scouting pool is strong. So this year, we will also put our efforts towards spreading our soccer schools. We already have started one in Raiwala and Mumbai and soon we will launch in Bangalore and other areas surrounding Mumbai.
Anything else you want to tell the readers?
I just want to say, we are quite an approachable bunch, so come to us with your thoughts, views and suggestions. Support us, make noise for us and at the same time get involved with the game. Then unless and until there is a collective movement with strong investment and fan support, the sport will remain a potential!
Published with permission from Arunava about Football.