Interview with Bengaluru FC chairman Mustafa Ghouse
Former Indian tennis professional Mustafa Ghouse is the CEO of JSW Sports, the owners of the new Bengaluru FC I-League team. The club has been making all the right moves to establish themselves as quickly as possible in the I-League. I get a chance to speak to Mustafa about the club’s launch, the signing of Sunil Chhetri and much, much more…
JSW Sports are working on setting an I-League team in Bangalore under the name of Bengaluru FC and you did a big launch a little over a week ago. How happy are you with the response?
The response has been nothing short of amazing. The launch was our way of connecting with people from the city and going by our social media feeds from fans, there’s a nice buzz that’s building up and we are confident that it will only get bigger.
How are the plans moving ahead?
While we do have a host of plans, we are taking things one step at a time. We’ve launched the club and pre-season has begun in earnest. We have a great coach and a fantastic bunch of players and the focus, at this moment, is on getting ready for the I-League.
Bengaluru FC have signed numerous players with India captain Sunil Chhetri the prize catch! How important was it for you to sign Chhetri?
Chhetri’s prowess doesn’t need any explaining. He’s the national team skipper and more importantly, a big player. For Bengaluru FC to land his signature tells a lot about the ambitions of the club. We realize we have a young squad but the right blend of experience is necessary and we all know what a player of Chhetri’s caliber brings to a team.
You have through your coach Ashley Westwood, his assistant Pradhyum Reddy and the players John Johnson and Curtis Osano brought in a distinct English flavour. Is there any reason behind it?
It’s purely football reasons. Ashley is a young coach who has had a lengthy playing career. He brings in so much of experience and has our complete backing. Pradhyum is no stranger to the Indian football scene and he even has a strong Bangalore connect. As for John and Curtis, Ashley has played with and against them and he knew exactly what he was doing in bringing them here.
What aim does the JSW management have for the new I-League team in year one?
Like I said earlier, we are a young team. The management and the coach haven’t set any target since it is still early days for the club. However, that doesn’t mean the team will compromise on working hard. No one is going to relax and take it easy.
Bangalore is known to be a sports -interested city. What are the plans to bring in fans for the matches?
The city loves its sport and in Bengaluru FC they have another reason to further that love. As a club, we are working out plans to make sure we get the football-crazy people of the city to support Bengaluru FC and in turn, hand them memorable match-day experiences. There is a host of activities planned for fans in the days to come.