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Bollywood XI vs cricket stars to feature in a football match in New Delhi next month?

8.77K   //    15 Mar 2013, 21:38 IST
FILE PHOTO: MS Dhoni and Dino Morea

FILE PHOTO: MS Dhoni and Dino Morea

A Bollywood XI led by Abhiskek Bachchan will lock horns with a team comprising top Indian cricketers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi next month. The proceeds of the match will go for the welfare of poor children.

The event is the initiative of filmmaker Bunty Walia’s All Stars Football Club which has been for some months in the making and the team will comprise the likes of Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Sachiin Joshi, Shabbir Alhuwalia etc., a report in the Mumbai Mirror revealed today.

The cricket team will comprise former football goalkeeper turned wicketkeeper and India captain aka MS Dhoni, Virat Kolhi, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan etc.

According to media reports that appeared last year, the club planned to play three star-studded exhibition matches every year and raise money for various charitable causes. The matches would be either among themselves or against corporate teams or other assorted combinations. The ASFC was to be a motley combination of Bollywood and TV stars and sportspersons from other disciplines. Among the actors whose names were bandied about at that time also included Dino Morea, former rugby international Rahul Bose and model Marc Robinson who plays the beautiful game quite regularly. Tennis icon Leander Paes who has since made his Bollywood debut in ‘Rajdhani Express’ and boasts fine football skills besides, Mahesh Bhupathi, Ritwik Bhattacharya, S Shreesanth and Mohammed Kaif were some of the famous sportspersons available for call up. Baichung Bhutia was to figure as coach.

Bachchan Jr is said to be a keen Chelsea fan and regularly flies abroad for their fixtures. Last time around he had taken his iconic father along and they attended a game against Tottenham Hotspurs together on the invitation of the London club owner Roman Abramovic. The result — the Big B was converted to the Chelsea cause!

“I had been to the Chelsea matches several times. But it was the first time for Pa. And I was excited, both by the thought of attending my favourite team’s match and by the fact that my dad was so excited. We had ourselves a ball,” Bachchan Jr had said.

Ranbir, who is reputedly a diehard Barcelona fan, once was invited for ‘El Clasico’ by the Blaugrana owners and even had his cap autographed by the peerless Lio Messi. The ‘Rockstar’ once famously said that if he was not an actor he would have loved to be a footballer as “it teaches team work, determination and discipline apart from being such an exciting sport”.

But one name from Bollywood synonymous with football – John Abraham – is missing from the ASFC line up. So why is “the biggest footsy fan in Bollywood” not on the team sheet?

So many Bollywood beauties and baddies are getting into football these days. Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra once wanted to launch a Football Premier League to which John Abraham and Sanjay Dutt had pledged their support. The ‘Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal’ star once wanted to launch a football academy in Sikkim with Bhutia.

Will they telecast the match and show how good or bad these Bollywood stars are? A couple of years ago I once saw one really big superstar who was once roped in to be the brand ambassador for the AIFF, taking a penalty kick at a football final organized by a local politician and minister where he was invited as chief guest. It was a big laugh!

In the old days, the likes of Dilip Kumar, Pran and R D Burman used to regularly attend matches at the Cooperage. Our reigning demi-gods are seen at Stamford Bridge and Nou Camp instead. When they start supporting Indian football clubs and attending local matches, maybe we could start taking their stated interest in football more seriously.

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Mario Rodrigues is a senior sports journalist and football & hockey writer. He is the author of the acclaimed biography of Ranjitsinhji titled ‘Batting for the Empire’.
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