Indian Arrows are My Babies says Pailan Owner Apurba Saha
A man earns money to spend. But not everybody spends it wise.
As a successful industrialist, Pailan Group Chairman Apurba Saha must have had a surplus of choices to spend and invest. Instead, he chose to be associated with football, that too at the Youth Development Stage.
At 8.30 am in the morning, from a distance you notice someone overseeing the proceedings and briefing the ground staff. “Everything has to be in place. The boys shouldn’t complain,” you hear from a distance. You move close and discover it’s Apruba.
“My association with Indian Arrows gives me peace. There’s football in every sphere of our lives,” Saha’s eyes glitter as he speaks. “Football teaches you discipline; it helps build our physique; it improves one’s common sense; you learn to act impulsively,” he goes on.
Taking over Indian Arrows came to Saha’s mind midway into the last season. “Developing sports has always stayed my priority. The Arrows are a fantastic bunch. They are already the face of Indian football; and they are not yet 21,” he adds. “They are my babies. I need to take care of them.”
“I could have easily taken over any other I-League club. But I preferred not to. I love the challenge in dealing with youngsters,” Saha who was goalkeeper in his teens explains.
The Arrows, who finished 9th among 14 teams last season have shifted base to the Pailan World School in Kolkata, the infrastructure of which stays the envy of almost all.
“There are two full-size training grounds and a third is coming up. The boys can make use of the floodlit facilities. Besides, there’s an ultra-tech gym, a swimming pool, tennis courts,” Saha informs. “There’s also a separate kitchen for the boys.”
You skip a breath trying to recollect the availability of all of the above in a single campus in the country. I stumbled. Pailan is indeed special.
Former India captain Tanumoy Basu, presently the goalkeeping coach of the Arrows supports Saha. “This is ideal for a developmental squad. Where in India would you get such facilities within one campus?” he quips.
With the School also within the campus, the boys are supposed to get a crash course in personality development, which Saha feels is very essential. “Players need to have a personality. Though football is played on the field, they need to learn to converse in English. A player needs to be marketable. It’s a quintessential part of today’s sport.”
The City of Joy’s passion for football is folklore by now. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are century-old clubs as is Mohammedan Sporting. Saha feels, the City will welcome his boys with open arms. “There’s a sense of bonding which is bound to develop between the school students and the Arrows. Pailan School is divided into three categories – residential, weekly and day boarding. As the boys would practice within the campus, it will add to our support.”
“Besides, there’s always a room for value addition. Cheer girls would be a part of every Indian Arrows’ match. In addition, there would be celebrities who would add glamour whenever we play,” Saha says.
“I know, eyebrows would be raised and many would object. But we need to keep in mind the commercial aspect,” Saha’s confidence seems infectious.
Apart from the Arrows, the Pailan School has hosted many a sporting event in the past, an ITF tourney and Dattu Phadkar Trophy being the notable ones. “The AC Milan U-19 squad also played an exhibition match in the campus,” Saha adds.
The boys have adapted well to the new campus. They had a practice session on Saturday morning followed by relaxation at the pool.
The official signing of the deal between Pailan Group and the All India Football Federation will take place on Sunday afternoon. The All India Football Federation President Mr. Praful Patel grace the occasion.
The Pailan Indian Arrows, then have a match slated against Bengal’s Santosh Trophy winning squad at the Pailan World School campus on Sunday. The kick-off is at 6pm.