Senin, 30 April 2012

Blackburn Rovers for sale, the Venky's deny

Former English Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers are staring at relegation with the club three points behind the first non-relegation spot with a worse goal difference after a terrible season for the club so far.

The blame is being square put on the clubs Indian owners - the Rao family, who own the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group and better known as the Venky's. Since their takeover of the club November 2010 things have gone from bad to worse and if relegated it would prove that the Venky's have not been able to understand how football works.

Yesterday there were renewed rumours in the English media that the Venky's could be on the verge of selling the club which was denied vehemently by Blackburn Rovers director Vineeth Rao.

"It is not true, none of that. We have no plans to sell Blackburn Rovers, none at all. Even if the club got relegated, which is not in our thoughts, we are not planning to sell," Rao told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph on Monday.

The reports went to the extend to suggest that Venky's had even contacted investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to broker a deal for the club.

But after the formal denial one can only wait and watch to see what happens next between Blackburn Rovers and the Venky's.

Bundesliga Column - Round 33: Decisions at top, relegation battle on last day

As is usual in the German Bundesliga for the last couple of rounds all nine matches of Round 33 of the 2011/12 season were played simultaneously at 15.30 CET on Saturday. This is to ensure same chances for everyone fighting for the title, places in Europe and against relegation.

The matchday saw champions Borussia Dortmund visit relegated 1.Kaiserslautern in an inconsequential match which did have its moments as Dortmund won 5-2, while Schalke ensured third spot and direct qualification for the UEFA Champions League while Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart qualified for the UEFA Europa League.

But of bigger interest was the relegation battle then before the match day four teams still could face relegation or the playoff spot. But with 17th place Hertha BSC Berlin trashed 4-0 by Schalke 04 and 16th placed FC Cologne losing 1-4 at SC Freiburg it meant that goalless draws for FC Augsburg in Mönchengladbach and Hamburger SV against Mainz was enough to ensure their survival.

But between Hertha Berlin and FC Cologne it will only be decided on next Saturday who goes down directly and which team will get another chance for survival in the relegation playoff spot. Currently Cologne are on 30 points, two ahead of Hertha Berlin. But both sides have tough final day encounters with Cologne set to face Bayern Munich, while Hertha Berlin take on Hoffenheim who are coached by former Hertha coach Markus Babbel who was fired late last year.

Round 33 Results

FC Schalke 04 4-0 Hertha BSC Berlin
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-0 Hannover 96
SC Freiburg 4-1 1.FC Köln
1.FC Kaiserslautern 2-5 Borussia Dortmund
1899 Hoffenheim 2-3 1.FC Nürnberg
VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 SV Werder Bremen
Hamburger SV 0-0 1.FSV Mainz 05
FC Bayern München 2-0 VfB Stuttgart
Borussia Mönchengladbach 0-0 FC Augsburg

Interview with Bibek Bhowmik (ONGC Football Team Manager)

The football team of ONGC from Mumbai returned to the I-League a couple of weeks back after having been relegated to the 2nd Division a year ago. Their manager Bibek Bhowmik is the man in the background of the ONGC football team, who has given time and effort to get the team into the I-League and bring them back there again. I had a chance to catch-up with Bhowmikda and get to know more about ONGC's football team - where they came from, where they are now and would like to go in the future.

Congratulations on getting promoted! How relieved are you now that your team has returned to the I-league after a season in Division 2?

Thank you very much for the compliments which off-course goes to the players and Coach Caetano Pinho for their hard work, determination and grit to try make impossible possible. Relieved?! You know, again the loads and loads of unimaginable work like mainly building up the team timely is the biggest task and second comes the training schedule and venue for the team as there is no good training field available in Mumbai.

Again the whole years load starts from the month of May, after immediately completing last years course. No rest, No respite. Probably I like the way not to be relieved. But yes Arunava, I could have also thought the way 'relief' means had it not been 'passion' and as people call madness or craze for football. Its not only an assignment by my employer, it is a sweet task and responsibility I like and enjoy.

How difficult was the season being out of the I-League for you and your team?

It was difficult for me personally as it took lot of hard work, toil and renouncements (like getting almost alienated from family and festivals). You know that since ONGC began sponsoring the National Football League in 2004 and when I had some very good players in our team as recruited employee players, I started dreaming to create an ONGC football team. But channelising the team through some state Football Association was very difficult. Mumbai District FA Com. Kehar Singh and his collegues gave me a start from the Mumbai Super League in 2005/06 and there begun the journey. Next three years, our ONGC team not only qualified for the Mumbai Elite League, it became a team for the 2nd Division then National League, now I-League.

And every time we reached the Final rounds and missed qualification by a whisker. That however did not deter me and I was more sort of dedicated, aggressive to achieve it. And, you know, in 2009/10, ONGC made history by qualifying as undefeated Champions in Bangalore.

Regarding difficulties. I must confess that once you slip down you start getting a second category treatment. I also started feeling inside as convinced to continue with a formidable team initially right from the start of season getting a jolt, then comes other facilities which are needed for the team training, etc. Others like Federations and Associations also look upon you as if you have been to the premier league once for a life time and that's enough for you. It becomes difficult to keep yourself motivated.

Fortunately, our Director (HR) and Head sports of the ONGC Sports division had always believed in me and my ability, and reposed their faith. However, building up a team though suffered as good level players were already out of market and mediocre players only were left to be taken. But, honestly, these players listened to me always, carefully and asking for their whole hearted contribution - they did.

Anyway, I am thoroughly a positive man - always try to do something which shall help football and football players for their career and eventually raising the 'flag' of our ONGC everywhere. ONGC gives me bread, but allowed me to nurture my dream and make it real. My family - particularly my wife and daughter have though suffered over the last 4-5 years as they had to do all and everything on their own, but they were my Great Inspiration, always boosted me and they pampared me to do some good for football in India.

There have been questions raised about ONGC's status as a professional football team as per the AFC Club Licensing criteria and therefore not being allowed to play next season's I-League. Can you clarify that from ONGC's point of view?

Yes. As per the AFC criteria, an I-League team would require primarily 'Legal Entity" i.e. a football company. Which is not possible under the prevailing structure as our ONGC is a PSU (Public Sector Unit) and there is a long way to take up such task. Air India and HAL also fall in the same category!

Now the point is that there are very few PSUs who have not only been contributing in greater area of football, they are also bringing qualify of life of football players by establishing their lives through employment. They are also maintaining some above 20 contractual players who would not have such better pay had these PSUs were not there. In a professional set up while you can nurture some special objective of building up a National Futures, you may also consider of having these PSUs who have been hand in hand with the Football Federation to support and raise football in India.

ONGC have been sponsors effectively from 2004 to 2009 besides sponsoring the Nehru Cup twice in 2007 and 2009. All this shows the keen interest of the authorities in ONGC for the growth of football in the country. ONGC has come to stay in the I-League and certain (if you realistically feel) documents should not be an impediment to the best driven organisation to go out of national football scenerio. I believe that concerned agencies shall be convinced realising the PSUs contribution and difficulties - both.

The AIFF is said to have approached you, if ONGC could play their home matches in Delhi instead of Mumbai where there are already two I-League teams. Is this something ONGC is considering?

AIFF has not approached to us so far for a venue elsewhere. See, Federation I mean, AIFF is the highest body of the country and they know how to implement the channel of football for the growth around the country. Yes, there have been talks with I-League CEO Sunando Dhar and me discussing on this also from the point of view that from the Northern part of India there is no I-League team and further, Mumbai is already having three teams.

ONGC has very strong presence in Delhi, Mumbai and in several parts of the country. If ONGC wants to popularise football in some parts of its activity area by having few I-League matches there, what is the harm. You know, professional football teams needs to have huge supports. Media coverage and publicity - nationally and internationally are to be considered and reviewed.

However, there has been no official approach by AIFF, and neither we have fancied the idea, though I repeat again that 'support from your own people, fan base creation, facilities by your own asssociation for training fields and professional attitudes' are definitely going to be deciding factors.

How the squad planning going ahead for next season? Any signings that you can name already?

For build-up of next years team, I can say that most of our contractual players are already in contract upto July, 2012. Now that we need to look for I-League effective players (this does not mean that our existing slots would not be chosen - many of them should stay as I feel).

In a PSU as you know there is some pattern and time schedule for the process of the job. Here too, we are through scouting process and finalisation would be soon expected. We would like to build up a very young side team with few experienced players and off-course some good foreign players too we are looking for. Besides good players, in ONGC, we need good boys too which is very essential to maintain discipline, harmony and commitment. Luckily, I have always got good boys in the team. My good luck, you can say!

And, regarding our planning of training, we are looking for pre-season training in Goa, because now most of the grounds have become synthetic turf except in Goa. We now have to play in Gangtok, Shillong therefore we are considering some days high altitude training after we gather our team.

Participating in some good tourneys, I hope, would also help making team bind in order. That is what I can say how. My primary job now is to pick boys for the team and complete the job, with provision of fund to run the team. That's first.

Minggu, 29 April 2012 VIDEO: FC Remscheid draw against Hilden

My home town team FC Remscheid here in Germany drew its match two-all in the Landesliga Gruppe 2 (7th German division) against VfB Hilden 03. The former 2.Bundesliga club move to 52 points from 27 matches and stay in third spot but the result is a drawback in their promotion chase.

Here my report for after today's match!

VIDEO: Fabio Simplicio celebrates goal by kissing wife & child

Here is affection on the football field which we rarely see! AS Roma's Brazilian Fabio Simplicio scored a goal in the Serie A against SSC Napoli and then runs off the pitch into the stands to kiss his child and then wife, but for this then picks-up a yellow card.

Why hasn't the I-League been able to spread across India?

The fifth edition of the I-League, India's so-called Professional Football League, is set to finish next week. The I-League continues to be in transition with no end in sight to finally become a full-fledged professional and pan-Indian league. The worry is that this state of being a semi-professional league which has been around since 1996 when the old National Football League was initially launched. The aim then was to have an Indian Pro League in about five years.

Now 16 years of the NFL/I-League are set to be completed, but still the league isn't fully professional and one doesn't know when it finally will become a full-fledged Pro League though the general organisation, scheduling and structure within the clubs has improved quite a bit over the years.

But one factor which is the key to overall success of the I-League - the spread across the country has not been achieved in all these years. The reasons are there to see - the strength of Kolkata and Goan football clubs, lack of professionalism in other parts of the country, lack of commercial viability of running a football club in India, lack of appropriate infrastructure. Surely the list could go on with further points on why such a situation persists.

At the end of the 2011/12 I-League south India will have no representation in the league with Bangalore's HAL SC and Chirag United Kerala set for relegation. Be it Kerala, Bangalore or Chennai these cities have not been able to sustain their representation in the I-League with a football mad city like Hyderabad not even featuring in the league due to infighting in the state football association.

The counter example is the Northeast! It is good to see that Shillong Lajong FC on their second attempt have maintained their I-League status and they would be joined by United Sikkim FC as the second team from the Northeast in the I-League's top tier, the first time this will happen in the league's history. Surely a good sign, but rather an exception.

North India meanwhile went unrepresented this season for the first time in the league's history, then at the end of last season Punjab's own JCT was relegated and they disbanded the team. After 15 years in the top tier there was no team from North India though last season the AIFF's Developmental Team Pailan Arrows was based in and around the capital Delhi.

I can't confirm but India is one of few nations, maybe the only country in the world of football where the capital city has not had an own team in the top tier NFL/I-League in the history of the league.

All these above points sadly add-up to show that the I-League has a low way to go to become a truly Pan-Indian League...

Sabtu, 28 April 2012

Follow Me & my work on Social Media!

I get asked once in a while on how to follow me and my work mostly related to football on social media besides reading my blog here at 'Arunava about Football'.

Here are the necessary links for you:

Follow me on Facebook: Arunava Chaudhuri Fanpage

Follow me on Twitter: @Arunfoot

Follow me on YouTube:

Three Indian boys selected for Celtic FC visit

Three Under-14 boys have been selected by the youth coaches from Scottish giants Celtic Glasgow FC to fly to Glasgow for 10 to 14 days to see Celtic in action, their facilities, train with the Celtic Academy and more.

In total 22 boys had been selected from the 2012 Mahindra Youth Football Challenge inter-city finals for a special three day camp with the Celtic coaches and they would then decide to invite two to four boys to Glasgow. In the end three were selected in Premananda Singha and Mangal Murmu, who both are from Kolkata's Pandua S.B.S. High School, Kolkata; and Mukesh Kumar from Central Reserve Police Force High School, Delhi.

For the three young footballers it is a once in a life-time opportunity, who can follow-up on the things they have learned over the duration of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge tournament and now in the camp under the Celtic coaches.

"We are extremely happy today as we identify the boys who will be sent to Celtic FC in Scotland for further training. The Mahindra Youth Football Challenge has grown significantly in the last two years and I am proud to say that we are achieving the objectives that we set ourselves, which is to promote football at the grass roots level," said Mahindras' S.P. Shukla.

Terming the tournament a great success, Mark Reid, the Celtic FC Youth Academy coach, said that the initiative would be fruitful to the young boys in pursuing their career in football.

"This year, we have again been part of a fantastic Mahindra Youth Football Challenge and it has been a great success. We hope this also gives the selected players a pathway to again progress and improve, when they come and visit the Celtic Academy for the ten day coaching period in Scotland," Mark Reid said.

Germany not to bid to host Euro2020

The German Football Association (DFB) has decided against bidding to host the 2020 European Championships. The reason behind the decision was that the DFB thinks that other countries should have the right to host the continental football championship after the nation successfully hosted the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

"The thought of having the best teams from across the continent and their fans in Germany is of course very attractive. But after we have hosted the World Cups in 2006 and 2011, it is the good right of other countries to take on the role of hosts," DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach explained the decision by the federation.

So far only Turkey has formally bid to host Euro2020 with the application phase for national football associations set to end on May 15. And with Germany pulling out this does increase Turkey's chances of hosting the tournament for which the nations has bid thrice unsuccessfully in the past.

But surely Germany could be a candidate to host the European Championship in 2024 or 2028 if the DFB thinks it suits its plans.

Under-20 I-League: Six Teams qualify for Final Round!

The Under-20 I-League kicked-off on April 16 and ended yesterday with the preliminary phase played across three different venues – Kalyani, Mumbai and Goa. The top two teams from the three groups qualify for the final phase which is slated to be held later in Kalyani, West Bengal. From Group A Prayag United and Shillong Lajong FC, from Group B Pune FC and Mumbai FC, while from Group C Churchill Brothers SC and Dempo SC qualified for the final phase.


Group A - Kalyani
East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan AC, Prayag United SC, Shillong Lajong FC

17-Apr-2012: Mohun Bagan AC 1-0 Shillong Lajong FC
17-Apr-2012: East Bengal Club 0-1 Prayag United SC
19-Apr-2012: Shillong Lajong FC 1-0 East Bengal Club
19-Apr-2012: Prayag United SC 1-0 Mohun Bagan AC
21-Apr-2012: Prayag United SC 0-1 Shillong Lajong FC
21-Apr-2012: Mohun Bagan AC 0-3 East Bengal Club

Group B - Mumbai
Air India; Chirag United Kerala; HAL, Bangalore; Mumbai FC; Pune FC

18-Apr-2012: Air India 2-0 Chirag United Kerala
18-Apr-2012: Mumbai FC 1-0 HAL, Bangalore
20-Apr-2012: Pune FC 5-1 HAL, Bangalore
20-Apr-2012: Mumbai FC 3-0 Chirag United Kerala
23-Apr-2012: HAL, Bangalore 0-3 Chirag United Kerala
23-Apr-2012: Pune FC 4-1 Air India
25-Apr-2012: Air India 0-2 Mumbai FC
25-Apr-2012: Chirag United Kerala 0-2 Pune FC
27-Apr-2012: HAL, Bangalore 1-0 Air India
27-Apr-2012: Pune FC 3-2 Mumbai FC

Group C - Goa
Churchill Brothers SC, Dempo SC, Salgaocar SC, Sporting Clube de Goa

16-Apr-2012: Dempo SC 5-1 Churchill Brothers SC
17-Apr-2012: Sporting Clube de Goa 7-0 Salgaocar SC
21-Apr-2012: Dempo SC 1-1 Salgaocar SC
22-Apr-2012: Sporting Clube de Goa 1-2 Churchill Brothers SC
25-Apr-2012: Dempo SC 1-1 Sporting Clube de Goa
26-Apr-2012: Salgaocar SC 0-1 Churchill Brothers SC

Jumat, 27 April 2012

Kolkata school win 2012 Mahindra Youth Football Challenge

Kolkata's Pandua S.B.S. High School have won the second edition of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge. They beat Central Reserve Police Force School from Delhi 5-0 in the final of the inter-city leg of the under-14 schools tournament at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday.

Pandua S.B.S. High School were impressive throughout the tournament as they won all their five group matches and then went on to win the final. The champions received a champions trophy and prize money of Rs 50,000, while the runners-up also got a trophy and prize money of Rs 30,000.

The six participating schools where - St. Aloysius High School, Bangalore; CRPF School, Delhi; St. Britto's High School, Goa; Malabar Special Police (MSP) Higher Secondary School, Malappuram, Kerala; Pandua High School, Kolkata and Don Bosco High School, Matunga, Mumbai - who played each other in a round robin league from Thursday last week to Tuesday and the top two sides meet again on Wednesday in the finals at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

Individual Player Awards

Man of the Match: Jayanta Murmu (Pandua High School (Kolkata)
Best goalkeeper: Anuj Kumar (CRPF School, Delhi)
Best defender: Sufaid Ali (Malabar Special Police Higher Secondary School, Kerala)
Best midfielder: Mangal Murmu (Pandua High School (Kolkata)
Best striker: Jayanta Murmu (Pandua High School (Kolkata)

Also present were youth coaches from Scottish giants Celtic Glasgow FC, who watched all the matches and picked 22 boys for a three day camp in Bangalore. The best two to four would be flown to Glasgow for up to two weeks to see Celtic in action, their facilities, train with the Academy and more.

Boys selected for Camp

Srimanth Paul, Premananda Singha, Mangal Murmu, Sheikh Raju, Jagannath Singh, Jayanta Murmu, Sunil Tudu, Palas Das, Pardip Rajak, Prakash Khetrapal (all Pandua High School, Kolkata); Mukesh Kumar, Anuj Kumar, Gaurav Bora, Abhishek Yadav (all CRPF School, Delhi); Vikrant Belwalkar, Nathan Fernandes (both Don Bosco High School, Matunga, Mumbai); James A., Singreipam R. (St. Aloysius High School, Bangalore); Emmanuel Souza, Marc D'Cruz (both St. Britto's High School, Goa), M.D. Sajid Khan, Sufaid Ali (both Malabar Special Police Higher Secondary School, Kerala)

VIDEO: Pep Guardiola departure press conference

There was an impressive press conference in Barcelona today! FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola at that press conference announced that he would not renew his contact after four years in-charge and explains the reasons why he has decided to leave the club at the end of the season.

FC Barcelona: Guardiola steps down, Vilanova to take over

Pep Guardiola (full name Josep "Pep" Guardiola i Sala) announced at a press conference today that he will leave Spanish giants FC Barcelona at the end of the season after four mostly successful years in which the Catalan club won 13 titles though over the last week the club lost against Real Madrid to lose the Spanish Primera Division title and lost 2-3 on aggregate to Chelsea FC not able to defend their UEFA Champions League title.

The reason for Guardiola's departure isn't failure but that the demands of the job were too high and his energy levels too low to continue at the Nou Camp.

"Four years are long and they wear you down," Guardiola said. "I think that sincerely that the next person will have things to bring that I can't."

"Every day during four years, the demands are very high, the pressure, the necessary energy to push the players and enjoy it. I need to rest and move away," Guardiola added.

Barca still have the chance to win the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) against Athletic Bilbao on May 25, which could take Guardiola's title count to 14.

There has been speculation for weeks on who could replace Guardiola at Barca if he steps down, but not Marcelo Bielsa, André Villas-Boas, Luis Enrique or Barca Youth coach Oscar Garcia were announced as replacements. The Barca management decided to name Guardiola assistant Tito Vilanova as his successor.

"I think the club is right (on Tito). He is more than qualified, and the players know him, he will change very little of what we do, and he will give a lot to the players and club," Guardiola said.

41 year old Pep Guardiola build one of the best teams in the history of club football during his tenure as FC Barcelona coach. Players like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez to name a few have developed great under the coach.

Guardiola said at the press conference that he had decided in December 2011 to take a break from football coaching due to the massive pressure in the club.

Scandal in Cologne: Substitute clears on the Goalline

The city of Cologne is a football crazy city here in Germany. The city's top club 1.FC Köln (FC Cologne) is fighting for survival in the Bundesliga but there are other clubs like Fortuna Köln (Regionalliga, fourth division) and FC Viktoria Köln 1904 (NRW-Liga, fifth division) who have their own fan following.

At FC Cologne the situation has been crazy for month's now to say the least, but on Wednesday evening during a NRW-Liga match between Viktoria Köln and KFC Uerdingen something unusual happened infront of 3,802 spectators in the Cologne World Cup stadium (Rhein-Energie Stadion) with even German international Lukas Podolski present.

It is the 84th minute when Köln's keeper Dominik Poremba is beaten by a Orhan Özkaya shot, but just before the ball crosses the line substitute Andreas Moog, who was warming-up behind the goal, jumps in and clears the ball. Uerdingen players charge at Moog for his unsporting behaviour with Moog given a red card by referee Thomas Menzen, which later turned out to be wrong then he should have only given a yellow card for coming onto the pitch.

But Moog's Viktoria Köln team mates knew about Fair Play and allowed the resultant Uerdingen indirectly free-kick to pass for the final 2-4 result. Viktoria lost the three points, but they remain top of the league and are set to gain promotion into the fourth division. But the story of this seasons NRW-Liga will be Andreas Moog and his goalline clearance even though he was not on the pitch.

Birmingham Smethwick's Sikh heartbeat gives grassroots football a voice!

On Wednesday, April 25 football stars past and present from in and around Birmingham joined a cast of grassroots and community activists for an historic night jointly organised by the Smethwick Gurdwara with Kick It Out (football's equality and inclusion campaign) and FA Consultant Brendon Batson for 'One Game Smethwick'.

Held in the shadows of English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns grounds, Baggies icon Brendon Batson, newly signed Walsall full-back Malvind Benning and ex-Saddler Netan Sansara, headlined 'One Game Smethwick', the first professional football debate to be held inside a Sikh Temple in the UK.

The forum consisted of a series of presentations about football in the local community; while prior to the forum, a sixty-strong congregation of guests were given a guided tour of the Temple, and shown how the facility is used each and every day.

The event, run in conjunction with Birmingham County FA and supported by West Bromwich Albion in the Community, brought together an audience from across the area, and offered attendees an insight into how crucial Smethwick Gurdwara is in promoting tolerance and inclusion, through sport, in and around the local community.

"The Temple has been key in these areas for many years," said Buta Singh, who heads up the British Asian Club Championships, and sat alongside Gurinder Singh Josan, a representative of the Smethwick Gurdwara committee, at the top table with Marni Sidhu, a teacher and coach in Coventry, Mick Tuohy from Sandwell Leisure Trust and Jasbir Batt of Birmingham County FA.

Former Walsall defender Netan Sansara, now playing for Cypriot side PAEEK FC, is one of only a handful of British Asians who have broken through to the professional ranks, and talked candidly about the role religion plays. "I'm a Sikh boy. Even in Cyprus, my faith isn't left to fallow. There is a Temple nearby which I use, and is good for when my family comes to visit. My faith is just as important as my football and I give both equal billing in my life."

Benning, who has just signed a professional contract with English League One side Walsall, spoke of his pride at making the grade and representing the local community. "I'm in the early stages of my career and hearing from people like Netan, who was at Walsall when I was just starting out, is inspiring. His work with organisations such as Kick It Out demonstrated to me how important this area of work is, away from just the playing side."

Speaking about the importance of working closely with parents at the grassroots level of the game, Sidhu, who will be representing Kick It Out and the Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA) at the Grass Roots Football Show next month, said, "In my role as a coach, communicating with parents is absolutely essential. This extends to being on hand to ferry youngsters to and from training sessions, when there parents are unable to do this themselves."

Mick Tuhoy, a qualified referee and chairman of the Sandwell Minor League, praised Smethwick Gurdwara for the way it engages with the local community, "I've worked in the area for over two decades, and I've seen a palpable change in the demographic of people working in this field. The changes I've seen have been dramatic. There are more posts held by women at the Trust than ever before, and more Asians participating in and on the receiving end of work that we deliver. Institutions like Smethwick Gurdwara play an important role in this."

These thoughts were echoed by Jasbir Batt, a relative newcomer with just four years experience in his position at the County FA. He concluded, "It's our job at The FA to be open and accessible to anyone. Getting youngsters into organised football can help us track how successful our efforts have been."

It was an evening of open discussion and one hopes it will help more British Asians to get into the professional game in English football.

Kamis, 26 April 2012

VIDEO: Me interviewing Indian ex-President Dr. Abdul Kalam

I was in Amsterdam yesterday for a Times Now Exclusive to speak to former Indian president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam about the possibility of him being made a candidate in the presidential election. I am not a political journalist, but it was surely an interesting assignment to speak to someone of the stature of Dr. Kalam.

Here is the first version of the interview!

Here is the second version of the interview!

VIDEO: Pepsi T20 Football Bangalore ESPN episode

Pepsi India has partnered with sports channel ESPN-Star Sports, who will produce and showcase the Pepsi T20 Football tournament in a special 8-episode series. This is the second part of the series from Bangalore!

Here the link to my original article from last month: Pepsi India launch Amateur T20 Football Tournament !

Champions League: Spanish Armada sunk

Very few would have considered a FC Bayern Munich vs Chelsea FC final in the 2012 UEFA Champions League at Munich's Allianz Arena on May 19 becoming a reality then many thought FC Barcelona had already qualified after it became clear that they would face Chelsea FC in the semifinals while their Spanish archrivals Real Madrid having the tougher assignment against FC Bayern Munich but also expected to go through. But it came differently then planned and envisaged which is the beauty of football, unpredictability.

While Chelsea winning 3-2 on aggregate against the defending champions FC Barcelona, considered as one of the best club sides of all times, was a massive upset; Bayern Munich winning 3-1 on penalties against Real Madrid after 210 minutes of intense football with 2-1 wins for both sides at home was a very close one to call.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings once more showed the beauty of football that anything is possible even in the most adverse circumstances. In both matches the Spanish home teams had gone ahead 2-0 and would have reached the finals with that result at the end of 90 minutes, but their English and German opponents came back into the match and then even went on to move into the finals.

Now one can look forward to an hopefully interesting and exciting UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, May 19 in Munich which surely will be an advantage to Bayern Munich, who play at home.

This was what I thought before the return-legs on Tuesday and Wednesday with a hint at what could happen: Champions League: Spanish giants face elimination .

AFC Cup: Al Orouba trash East Bengal

Yemen's Al Orouba drubbed East Bengal Club 4-1 in a Group B match to keep their hopes in reaching the AFC Cup pre-quarterfinals alive, while the red-and-gold lost their fifth group match in a row.

Al Orouba knew defeat or even a draw at the Prince Mohammad International Stadium in Amman could end their campaign, Abdellah Yahya and Yasser Al Gabr added to Duke's first half double after the break to ensure Al Orouba remain in the picture heading into the final Matchday in a fortnight's time.

East Bengal only could strike late through Brazilian substitute Edmilson Marques Pardal, who beat Al Orouba goalkeeper Muaadh Abdulkhaleq from inside the box and it was the only consolation for the Kolkata giants on another frustrating AFC Cup night.

A disappointed East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan said, "The better side won today as our opponents had a good performance while we were not lucky in defence and we conceded four goals, including two goals in the first half, which ended the game early."

"We conceded goals from free-kicks and from different chances as the marking was not good from our side. Our defence was not at its best and we paid for that," Trevor added.

Rabu, 25 April 2012

Arrows score first win, Chirag Kerala relegated

Chirag United Kerala failed in their bid to avoid relegation by suffering a 0-3 loss against the Pailan Arrows, the first victory for the Arrows in their 24th match this season. The victory takes Pailan Arrows to 13 points while Chirag United Kerala stay on 17 points from 24 matches, seven behind Mumbai FC with to matches to play.

The AIFF's developmental team rode on Team India strikers C.S. Sabeeth's hattrick against his former club. It was a tragedy at Kochi's Nehru Stadium that a Keralite relegated Kerala's lone I-League club. Following HAL's relegation earlier it means there will no club from south India in the I-League next season.

Chances were even for both sides in the early part of the match as rival strikers Vineeth C.K. for Chirag Kerala and George Alwyn for Pailan Arrows came close to putting their respective teams into an early lead. But all had to wait till the 33rd minute for the first goal of the match. Chirag Kerala goalkeeper and captain Sharath K. was to blame for the goal as he fumbled a shot from Malswamfela. The ball fell kindly for Sabeeth who just had to tap it in from close.

Pailan's young guns doubled their lead in injury time of the first session. This time it was from a break initiated by Bikramjit Singh who released Sabeeth ahead of the Chirag Kerala backline. Sabeeth rounded past the on-rushing Sharath and slotted the ball into the open net to conclude the first forty-five minutes.

Changing over, Chirag Kerala coach Biswajit Bhattacharya brought in winger Usman Ashik in place of Suman Dutta. He also rang changes by bringing on Pradeep Mohanraj in the central midfield and pushing Vineeth C.K. to the wings to bring more creativity. But their fortunes did not change and relegation was looming on the horizons. And it could not have gone worse for them as Sherin Sam received marching orders for bringing down George Alwyn in the box and a spot kick was awarded to Arrows. Sabeeth blasted the penalty down the middle of the goal, completing the Indian international's first I-League hattrick.

Pailan Arrows Coach Sujit Chakrabarty sounded pleased after the first win. "This was long due. We have been unlucky not to win quite a few matches against tougher oppositions. It feels nice we came good," Sujit said.

Goalkeeping Coach Tanumoy Basu added, "I have never been in doubt about the quality of our boys. It's true that conversion has cost us dear in the League so far. But today that wasn't the case. It feels nice to win in such a convincing manner."

VIDEO: Latest Pepsi Film - Footballers vs Cricketers!

The latest ad is a really funny one by Pepsi India! It features last nights Chelsea FC hero's Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres taking on Team India cricketers in a game of Cricket with elements of football and captain Mahender Singh Dhoni as umpire.

Selasa, 24 April 2012

AFC Cup: East Bengal aim for win in Jordan

East Bengal Club have a tough assignment later today against Al Orouba of Jordan at the Prince Mohammed International Stadium in Amman. The red-and-gold have lost all their four matches so far, but after Salgaocar's first win yesterday the hope is that the Kolkata giants will follow in their path.

East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan sounded positive at the pre-match press conference, "Although we have so far got no points in this competition we would go all out to win tomorrow's game. In our home match we were denied full points due to some poor refereeing."

"Although we cannot qualify we will give our best which would enable us to do well in the remainder of the season," Trevor added.

Meanwhile captain Sanju Pradhan, who has been nominated for Fan Player of the Year, added, "We will give off our best in the match which would inspire us to do well in rest of the matches."

For Al Orouba the match has special significance then in third place they need the three points to keep the pressure on table toppers Arbil from Iraq and Kuwaitis Kazma SC.

Al Orouba coach Mohammed Saleh said before the game, "East Bengal is a strong and organized team, moreover they do not have any pressure and would go all out to win the match. This would be one of the most difficult matches for us and we will have to be at our best to win this match. Three points from this game would facilitate our qualification chances otherwise we would be eliminated."

AFC Cup: Salgaocar beat Al Arouba for first win!

Salgaocar SC scored their first-ever AFC Cup victory, a 3-1 win against Al Arouba from Oman in their fifth Group D league match at the Nehru Stadium, Margao.

In was an even game in the first session, but in injury time Francis Fernandes tapped in a Beevan D'Mello cross. Salgaocar continued after the break from where they had left off as only three minutes into the second session striker Milagres Gonsalves would head home a Nicolau Colaco cross.

Then in the 64th minute midfielder Gilbert Oliveira would make it 3-0 for Salgaocar. Al Arouba was beaten by then but their striker Danilo Texeira would score off a penalty in the 81st minute after he himself had been brought down by defender Augostinho Fernandes.

It ended 3-1 for Salgaocar SC's first win which brought them level on points with Al Arouba, who where also eliminated from the AFC Cup while Al Wehdat from Jordan and Uzbek's Neftchi FC move into the pre-quarterfinal phase.

"Football is not only about quality, it is also about character, and today my boys have excelled and performed wonderfully in all the departments like speed, fitness and technical abilities," said a delighted coach Karim Bencherifa.

"However, I have mixed feelings as we held our head high with some good performances but at the same time we are out of contention for the next round. Our target now will be to not to finish at the bottom of the table," Karim added.

2012 Olympics: Men's & Women's Football Draw out

The draw for the group stage of the men's and women's football competitions at the 2012 London Olympics was carried out today. While the men's competition has 16 teams participating and is an Under-23 event inclusive of three overage players, the women's tournament is a 12 team competition for full national teams.

Hosts Great Britain have been given a tough draw in the men's competition against Uruguay, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates; while all other three groups are evenly poised. The top two teams from each of the four groups go through to the quarterfinals.

In the women's competition the Great Britain women's team will face New Zealand, Cameroon and Brazil in an interesting Group E. In Group F last years Women's World Cup winners Japan take on Canada, Sweden and South Africa, while in Group G defending champions USA play France, Colombia and North Korea.

As the women's competition is a 12 teams tournament the top two teams from each group and the two best third-placed teams qualify for the quarterfinals.


Men's draw

Group A: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay

Group B: Mexico, South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland

Group C: Brazil, Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand

Group D: Spain, Japan, Honduras, Morocco

Women's draw

Group E: Great Britain, New Zealand, Cameroon, Brazil

Group F: Japan, Canada, Sweden, South Africa

Group G: USA, France, Colombia, North Korea

Brisbane Roar win A-League title amid controversy

The 2012 A-League Grand Final at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday night was the seventh edition of the A-League Grand Final. Defending champions Brisbane Roar took on Perth Glory with the aim of being the first team to defend their A-League title. The Roars did in the end achieve their title defence but amid controversy.

The Brisbane Roars won the match in injury-time due to a penalty given for their Albanian striker Besart Berisha, who is seen to go down after firing an airhole with no contact from any Perth Glory defender. Berisha himself took the penalty to seal the victory.

Earlier in the game an Ivan Franjic own goal had given Perth Glory a surprise lead, but the Roar would hit back with a Besart Berisha header off a cross from German Thomas Broich before Berisha would win it for Brisbane late in injury-time with his second of the night.

Here the video on the controversial penalty which won Brisbane Roar the A-League title

VIDEO: Pepsi T20 Football Chennai ESPN episode

Pepsi India has partnered with sports channel ESPN-Star Sports, who will produce and showcase the Pepsi T20 Football tournament in a special 8-episode series. This is the first part of the series from Chennai!

Here the link to my original article from last month: Pepsi India launch Amateur T20 Football Tournament !

Champions League: Spanish giants face elimination

In the next couple of days the return-leg of the two UEFA Champions League semifinals between FC Barcelona vs Chelsea FC (Tuesday) and Real Madrid vs FC Bayern Munich (Wednesday) will decide on which two sides will play the finals on May 19 at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Last week Chelsea FC upset defending champions FC Barcelona at home at Stamford Bridge through a Didier Drogba strike. But it was one of the few Chelsea attacks that evening then Barca was the better side but the woodwork, great goalkeeping from Petr Cech and resolute defending denied the Catalans a goal. Interestingly Barca have a bad piece of stats against the Blues and history might repeat itself though Barca surely are capable of scoring two or more goals against Chelsea.

But the Londoners will come to the Nou Camp today with an aim to once more defend as resolutely as possible and then ideal score a goal or two which would mean Barca would have to win by a two goal margin to continue to have the chance to defend their title.

Meanwhile tomorrow Real Madrid will try and turn around a 1-2 deficit against German giants Bayern Munich at their Santiago Bernabeu. There is no doubt that Bayern Munich were the better side last Tuesday at the Allianz Arena and could maybe should have won by a bigger margin. The Bavarians showed that their aim of the 'Finale Dahoam' (the final at home) was alive and put the Spaniards under massive pressure for most of the match.

Real Madrid have the advantage of having scored a vital away goal through German Mesut Özil, but Bayern Munich of having scored the winner a minute from time. Another such performance would be needed to beat Real Madrid and make the dream of a home final a reality.

If the matches had been over after just the 90+ minutes from the first-leg then both the Spanish sides would be out of the competition. And interestingly against these opponents both sides have failed in the semifinals. Especially Real Madrid's stats are bad then thrice they faced Bayern Munich in the semis and on all three occasions (1976, 1987, 2001) the Bavarians prevailed.

Senin, 23 April 2012

AFC Cup: Salgaocar SC play for honour

The now former I-League champions Salgaocar SC are out of the AFC Cup, but in their Group D home match against Al Arouba from Oman they will hope to finally break the jinx and win their first game of their AFC Cup campaign. Kick-off is at 17.45 IST at the Nehru Stadium, Margao.

"If you look at our previous matches, I think we have performed really well despite setbacks. This shows the character and the fighting spirit our team possess. Apart from the match in Jordan where we lost 5-0, I think our performance in the AFC Cup was satisfactory, I hope to put up a good show in front of our Home fans," said coach Karim Bencherifa.

Salgaocar is boosted by the return of Brazilian captain Luciano Sobrosa, but will be without suspended duo Irungbam Khelemba Singh and Rocus Lamare while Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh and Japanese midfielder Ryuji Sueoka will be missed again due to injury. Further French midfielder Maxim Belouet is also not fully fit as is the case with Biswajit Saha and Rahul Kumar.

"We have played 24 rounds in the I-League and most of our players are nearing 40 matches this season, it's a tough season for the players. Having said that, I would also like to stress that tomorrow's game will be a challenge for us," added Bencherifa.

For Al Arouba it is about taking the points back home to stay in contention for a place in the pre-quarterfinals.

"The match against Salgaocar will be our last chances to maintain any hope of qualifying to the next stage especially after losing two important points in the previous match against Neftchi," said Al Arouba coach Mukhtar Mukhtar.

"Winning against Salgaocar will open the door for us to compete for a place in the next stage especially because we will host Al Wehdat at home in the last match," Mukhtar added.

VIDEO: Adidas - Edwin van der Sar is back!

Great new ad by Adidas! Surely worth a watch...

Amsterdam, April 18. Edwin van der Sar on a barge and hundreds of fans running through the streets with one goal on their mind: SCORE! Thanks to everybody who ran, Adidas took a shot and especially to those who scored.

Bundesliga Column - Round 32: Dortmund are champions!

Round 32 of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season saw champions Borussia Dortmund defend their title from last season with a rather easy 2-0 against Borussia Mönchengladbach while 1.FC Kaiserslautern returned to winning ways against Hertha BSC Berlin but still were relegated while Hertha's relegation threat grew further with the defeat.

Dortmund went into the third last round of the season with an eight point lead and knowing if Bayern Munich don't win in Bremen then the would have won the title before playing their Saturday evening match against Borussia Mönchengladbach. But Bayern Munich scored a 90th minute winner through individual brilliance from substitute Franck Ribery to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 in an afternoon match.

Now Dortmund wanted to seal the title this weekend at home rather then wait another week and win the title away. The team showed what it did all season - direct power football which didn't leave any real chances to Gladbach. Goals from Ivan Perisic and Shinji Kagawa on either side of the break sealed the victory. Thereafter it was party time in Dortmund!

Meanwhile in the relegation race the two bottom clubs Hertha BSC Berlin and 1.FC Kaiserslautern met at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Hertha hoped to close the gap or overtake FC Cologne who are in the 16th spot relegation playoff spot, but the club from the capital suffered a 1-2 defeat against Kaiserslautern, their first win after 21 winless matches.

FC Cologne meanwhile showed a marked improvement against an in-form VfB Stuttgart but in the end had to settle for a one-all draw, which was also the result between FC Augsburg vs FC Schalke 04 and 1.FC Nürnberg vs Hamburger SV. With two matches to play Augsburg remain four points ahead of Cologne, while Hamburg have five points more then the Rhineland club.

Round 32 Results

1.FSV Mainz 05 0-0 VfL Wolfsburg
SV Werder Bremen 1-2 FC Bayern München
1.FC Köln 1-1 VfB Stuttgart
Hertha BSC Berlin 1-2 1.FC Kaiserslautern
1899 Hoffenheim 0-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
1.FC Nürnberg 1-1 Hamburger SV
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
FC Augsburg 1-1 FC Schalke 04
Hannover 96 0-0 SC Freiburg

FPAI Announces nominations for "Fans' Player of the Year 2012"

The Football Players' Association of India (FPAI) has announced the nominees for the "Fans' Player of the Year 2012" for the fourth FPAI Indian Football Awards to be held in Goa next month.

The players have been nominated for their strong performances for their respective clubs in the I-League in the 2011/12 season. Now the Indian football fans have the chance to chose their "Fans' Player of the Year 2012". The winner will be announced at the FPAI Indian Football Awards on May 12 in Goa.

The players who have been named as the top six candidates all had a great season!

The Candidates (more infos on their Wikipedia pages)

- Ranty Martins Soleye (Dempo SC, Nigeria) [ wiki/Ranty_Martins_Soleye]

- Sanju Pradhan (East Bengal Club, India) [ wiki/Sanju_Pradhan]

- Odafe Onyeka Okolie (Mohun Bagan AC, Nigeria) [ Odafe_Onyeka_Okolie]

- Manandeep Singh (Air India, India) [ Manandeep_Singh]

- Tolgay Özbey (East Bengal Club, Australia) [ Tolgay_Özbey]

- Francis Fernandes (Salgaocar SC, India) [ wiki/Francis_Fernandes]

The voting opens tomorrow Tuesday, April 24 at 22.00 IST (17.30 GMT / 18.30 CET).
You can all cast your vote at !

About FPAI

The FPAI (Football Players Association of India), India's apex football players' body, was set up with Baichung Bhutia as its president in 2006 and represents the interests of all I-League and first division footballers. FPAI is formally affiliated to the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (FIFPro), the worldwide representative organization for professional football players.

Minggu, 22 April 2012

Chelsea Star(s) to grace Pepsi T20 Football finals

The Chelsea FC trio Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba are all brand ambassadors of global cola brand Pepsi and in that function at least one of them will be in New Delhi for the national finals of the Pepsi T20 Football to coach and work with the winners of the nationals to take on a team made-up of Indian cricketer, who are also brand ambassadors.

There is no involvement from Chelsea FC in this exercise, the players have individual sponsorship deals with Pepsi; but the club surely will not mind the cross-promotion of the club through their players.

All this is set to happen in June 2012, but with Euro2012 taking place in Poland and the Ukraine from June 8 to July 1 the likelihood of Englishman Lampard and Spaniard Torres coming to India seems difficult due to their international commitments. Ivorian Drogba in my opinion looks to be the top candidate at the moment as per the football calendar, but maybe Pepsi India can work around it.

The feedback that I have gotten from people who have participated in the events in Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai has been positive. It is a new concept to mix elements of cricket into football, which can create a hype around the sport.

The Pepsi T20 Football is another step in Pepsi India's 'Change the Game' campaign which has started to promote football at the grassroot level.

Here the link to my original article from last month: Pepsi India launch Amateur T20 Football Tournament ! VIDEO: FC Remscheid lose against VSF Amern

My home town team FC Remscheid here in Germany lost by a lone goal its match in the Landesliga Gruppe 2 (7th German division) against VSF Amern 1910. The former 2.Bundesliga club stay on 51 points from 26 matches and also stay in third spot.

Here my report for after today's match in which I also did the camera for the first time!

Borussia Dortmund win Bundesliga title!

Borussia Dortmund defended their Bundesliga title with a 2-0 win against Borussia Mönchengladbach in their Round 32 home match at the Signal Iduna Park infront of 80,720 capacity crowd. After the final whistle it was party time in Dortmund with the BVB winning their eighth overall German title (1956, 1957, 1963, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012), one more then archrivals FC Schalke 04 which is important in the Ruhr valley.

What makes this so special is the fact that Dortmund has now remained unbeaten for 26 matches in a row, a new alltime Bundesliga record after the club had a mixed start to the season.

The young Borussia Dortmund side under their coach Juergen Klopp once more showed what talent they have in Shinji Kagawa, Mario Götze, Mats Hummels, Kevin Großkreutz, Robert Lewandowski and on the other side the experience of captain Sebastian Kehl and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. From start to finish it was a team effort without the real superstars like is the case with other teams across the continent.

Now Dortmund also have a chance to win their first German double of Bundesliga and Cup titles. On May 12 they face Bundesliga runners-up FC Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and for the Bavarians it will be about revenge after four losses in the league against BVB.

Australia's Colosimo to attend FPAI Awards 2012 in Goa

Melbourne Heart defender Simon Colosimo will be present at the FPAI organised Indian Football Awards 2012 on May 12 at the Marriott Resort & Spa Hotel in Panjim, Goa. He will be representing the Australian Professional Footballers Association as its president at the FIFPro Asia Conference on May 10/11.

Simon Colosimo has played 26 times for Australia and knows Indian defender Gouramangi Singh, who had been on trial at Melbourne Hearts a couple of seasons back.

Simon Colosimo will be able to give feedback on how the League is structured in Australia and what all is done for the players there. The A-League is a franchise based league so it will be interesting for players from India to learn from him and exchange ideas

Simon is looking forward to playing either a beach soccer match and/or attending some junior training at one of the Football Clubs in Goa.

Sabtu, 21 April 2012

Ex-India Internationals launch Football School

The three ex-Indian internationals Abhishek Yadav, Shanmugam Venkatesh and Deepak Kumar Mondal have launched the Football School of India in collaboration with the Dr. Pillai's Global Academy in New Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai. The aim of the FSI is to develop the next generation of Indian football talent with 150 children having already enrolled themselves into the training program.

Abhishek Yadav as the president of the FSI said, "Through our training programme, we aim to build strong contenders for the national team."

What is a strength of these former Indian internationals is their years of experience on the Indian football circuit and the fact that they played in different positions which should give the kids a good inside then Deepak Mondal was a defender, Venkatesh a midfielder and Abhishek a striker.

The training will be conducted on the artificial turf of the Dr. Pillai's Global Academy in New Panvel.

The FSI is another initiative by footballers in India after a similar program was launched by Baichung Bhutia under the name of the Baichung Bhutia Football Schools.

AIFF Disciplinary Committee fines Tolgay Ozbey

The Disciplinary Committee of the All India Football Federation met in Goa on Thursday to discuss the altercation which took place around a training session of East Bengal Club at the Nehru Stadium ahead of their match against Sporting Clube de Goa on December 5, 2011.

The red-and-golds Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey was fined Rs 50,000 for an altercation with the ground supervisor Raju Adpaikar who earlier had gotten into an argument with East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan about the teams training session.

The Committee gave a patient hearing to East Bengal manager Swapan Bal, who represented Tolgay Ozbey; Raju Adpaikar (Senior Supervisor of Sports Authority of Goa) and Goa Football Association General Secretary Mr. Alberto Colaco, General Secretary before reaching its decision.

Ex-Kiwi Captain to attend FPAI Awards 2012 in Goa

Former New Zealand national team (All Whites) player Timothy Oliver Brown will be present at the FPAI organised Indian Football Awards 2012 on May 12 at the Marriott Resort & Spa Hotel in Panjim, Goa. He will be representing the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association at the FIFPro Asia Conference on May 10/11.

Better knows as Tim Brown, he will also be visiting Kolkata and Darjeeling as part of his journey through India. In Kolkata he will be playing a match between the Debanjan Sen Foundation XI and the Howrah Veterans Club XI on May 19. He will also be conducting a short camp for the Debanjan Sen Foundation and interact with their students the day before the match.

Tim is later set to travel to Darjeeling where he will do some training and coaching in the famous Tea Gardens for children of tea plantation workers.

Tim Brown, who has played 29 internationals for his country, was the captain of the New Zealand Team that played the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup against the likes of Brasil, Italy and hosts South Africa.

Only recently Tim retired from active football following the conclusion of the 2011-12 A-League season in Australia to pursue a Masters degree in Management at either the London School of Economics or Cambridge University.

Beckham continues to be Best Paid Footballer

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham continues to be the best paid footballer in the world as per the latest rich list from Forbes magazine. Now playing for MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy Beckham earns an astonishing US$ 46 Million from salaries, bonuses and endorsement deals.

Next to Beckham are Real Madrid's Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo with US$ 42 Million and FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi from Argentina with US$ 39 Million ahead of England's Wayne Rooney from Manchester United and Brazilian Kaka of Real Madrid.

2012 Forbes' list of the Best Paid Football

1. David Beckham - 46 Million USD
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - 42 Million USD
3. Lionel Messi - 39 Million USD
4. Wayne Rooney - 24 Million USD
5. Kaka - 21 Million USD
6. John Terry - 18 Million USD
7. Yaya Toure - 18 Million USD
8. Fernando Torres - 17 Million USD
9. Frank Lampard - 16 Million USD
10. Steven Gerrard - 16 Million USD

Jumat, 20 April 2012

66th Santosh Trophy: J&K name 60 probables

The Jammu&Kashmir Football Association has invited a total of 60 probables for the selection trials of the Jammu&Kashmir state team for the 66th edition of the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy will be played from May 11 to 27 across Orissa.

The 60 players have been asked to report at the Polo Ground in Srinagar tomorrow at 9.00 am with the trials set to continue until Monday, April 23. Those selected from the trials would be having a 15 day preparatory camp ahead of travelling to Orissa.

The JKFA have appointed Ranjit Singh, the JK Police coach, as the state coach while Muhammad Shafi Nari has been appointed as manager and Ashiq Hussain as physiotherapist.

The 60 trialists have been come from across the state. 14 players are from Forest XI, nine players are from Jammu&Kashmir Bank, eight are from JKPDC, six are from JK Police, four each from Food & Supplies, Iqbal Sports and Maharaja Sports, two from AG Office while seven have been invited from Jammu.

Jammu&Kashmir have been drawn in the preliminary round Cluster V along with Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh playing their matches on May 13 (vs Arunachal Pradesh), and May 15 (vs Maharashtra).

Sikh Temple to host UK football forum

The Smethwick Gurdwara in Birmingham will become the first Sikh Temple in the United Kingdom to open its doors to a community and professional football event.

On Wednesday, April 25 the Smethwick Gurdwara will join forces with Kick It Out (football's equality and inclusion campaign) and FA Consultant Brendon Batson for 'One Game Smethwick'.

In what will be a groundbreaking partnership with the local Sikh community and Birmingham County FA, the event will bring together grassroots teams and community groups in the oldest Temple or Gurdwara in the UK to discuss how local stakeholders can work collectively to make football more readily available to everyone in the area also discussing issues of British Asian footballers.

West Brom legend Brendon, new Walsall left-back Malvind Benning, ex-Saddler Netan Sansara currently playing for Cypriot side PAEEK, and Notts County's Sam Sodje will be taking part in a panel session at the free forum.

Buta Singh, who heads the British Asian Club Championships, a series of open football events across the Midlands, and is a user of Smethwick Gurdwara, said, "The Sikh community has been involved in football in this country for over half a century, but this is the first time professional football has come into our place of worship."

"We welcome the fact that football wants to serve communities as well as entertain them and I feel we are now moving into a new era of the game together."

Lord Herman Ouseley, Kick It Out Chairperson, said, "This is another example of the positive work Kick It Out carries out in order to engage with different communities."

"A Gurdwara is not the typical setting you'd expect for a grassroots football debate, yet this is further proof that the campaign's work extends way beyond just combating racism. 'One Game Smethwick' is a unique opportunity to discuss openings in the game at a local level, and I'd encourage anybody that can make it down to attend."

Running from 18.30 - 20.45 GMT, the forum will also consist of a series of presentations about football in the local community, and a guided tour of the Temple.

To confirm your place at 'One Game Smethwick', please contact Kevin Coleman, Kick It Out's Grassroots Development Officer, on 020 7253 0162 or via .

I-League 2011/12: Dempo champions, regain the title!

Goans Dempo SC held Kolkata giants East Bengal Club in an I-League match at the Nehru Stadium to ensure their historic fifth I-League/NFL title in eight years. The draw took Dempo to 54 points from 25 matches while East Bengal moved to 45 points from 24 matches and ended the red-and-golds hopes of regaining the I-League title.

While Dempo knew that a draw would be enough for them, East Bengal needed the three points to stay in the hunt for the title and accordingly coach Trevor Morgan fielded a three man attack in Tolgay Ozbey, Robin Singh and Edmilson Marques Pardal. East Bengal had more from the match, but they couldn't score of their chances.

East Bengal's best chance of the first session fell to Brazilian striker Edmilson in the 30th minute when goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury's ball intended for defender Cressan Antao was snatched by Edmilson but with only the goalie to beat he shockingly picked-up the side post. Australian Tolgay was also presented with a good opportunity but the striker could not give finishing touches to a brilliant through ball from Mehtab Hussain.

There was some controversy in injury time of the first half when Tolgay was brought down by Rowilson Rodrigues, but the referee saw it otherwise and even booked Tolgay for allegedly diving.

After the break Dempo stood deeper allowing East Bengal more of the possession, but kept them away from their goal and didn't allow them too many chances. The best of the session came from substitute Sanju Pradhan, whose intended cross suddenly dipped goalwards just hitting the top netting and thereafter once more Edmilson missed an golden opportunity as his header just went wide of the target.

Dempo mainly relied on counter-attacks which didn't bring any result. Their best chance came off a Ranty Martins Soleye free-kick which hit the crossbar.

It was party time after the final whistle for Dempo's, but they still have to play their last match against Kolkata's Prayag United SC at the Saltlake Stadium on May 5 and there they would be presented the Champions Trophy and a cheque of Rs 7 Million (70 lakhs).

Manchester United top 2012 Forbes' Football Clubs list

Manchester United has topped for the eight year in a row the Forbes magazines rich list of the Most Valuable Football Clubs in the world ahead of Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Manchester is now valued at US$ 2.235 Billion, a 20% increase from last year with Real Madrid second at a valuation of US$ 1.877 Billion and Barcelona at US$ 1.307 Billion. The top five is completed by FC Arsenal and FC Bayern Munich, who both are the two other clubs valued at over a Billion US$.

Forbes determined its valuations by combining its own review of financial documents and interviews with sports bankers along with Deloitte LLP's annual 'Football Money League' report, which in February 2012 ranked Real Madrid as the richest club by sales/turnover ahead of FC Barcelona and Manchester United.

Manchester United's massive value not of comes from its on-field success but also their 330 million fans around the world, which makes them the most valuable sports team in the world.

2012 Forbes' list of the Most Valuable Football Clubs

1. Manchester United - 2,235 Million USD
2. Real Madrid - 1,877 Million USD
3. FC Barcelona - 1,307 Million USD
4. FC Arsenal London - 1,292 Million USD
5. FC Bayern Munich - 1,235 Million USD
6. AC Milan - 989 Million USD
7. Chelsea FC - 761 Million USD
8. Liverpool FC - 619 Million USD
9. Juventus Torino - 591 Million USD
10. FC Schalke 04 - 587 Million USD
11. Tottenham Hotspurs - 564 Million USD
12. Internazionale Milan - 490 Million USD
13. Manchester City - 443 Million USD
14. Borussia Dortmund - 394 Million USD
15. Olympique Lyonnais - 385 Million USD
16. Hamburger SV - 355 Million USD
17. AS Roma - 354 Million USD
18. Olympique Marseille - 349 Million USD
19. FC Valencia - 288 Million USD
20. SSC Napoli - 283 Million USD

Interview with Gabriela Bertante (ex-Footballer now Model & Actress)

Brazilian Gabriela Bertante has made a name for herself in India as a model and now is working to establish herself as an actress in Bollywood and in regional Indian cinema. Though she has adopted to life in India, she is Brazilian and loves football, she's even played the beautiful game back home in South America but didn't know about Indian football. I had a chance to interview her about football and her passion for the game.

Gabriela people know you as a model, now you are acting; but you used to play football back in Brazil. Tell us a little more about you and football.

I love football since I was small because my brothers always played and of course I followed to cheer for them.

I played soccer almost all day, but nothing serious I just really enjoyed playing with the boys and one very important thing is I love to play without shoes! Later I started to train seriously and participate in major soccer leagues (11 A-Side) but it was in what we call Salon (5 A-Side) in Brazil I went on to participate in several championships.

As a Brazilian I guess you support the Selecao. Any club side you support?

Yes! I support CR Flamengo (Rio de Janeiro) since I was small, but I always support and cheer for the team that my brother Luis Gueguel is playing and last that was Palmeiras in Sao Paulo!

Do you have any favourite football player(s)?

First comes my brother Luis Gueguel (full name Glelberson Luís Leopoldino Bertante) and of course I love Kaka!!!

You now work in India. Do you get to watch football on TV in India?

I don't watch TV here (in India). I simply don't get the time, but when I can I watch Brazilian league matches on the Internet.

A lot of Bollywood stars do follow football. Ever spoken to them about the beautiful game of football?

Really? They do??? I was not aware!!! (laughs) Although when I spoke with cricketer Yuvraj Singh once, he told me that he likes football.

There is also football in India. Ever thought of watching live football in an Indian stadium?

I have never witnessed a match in Mumbai. But I was in Goa during Diwali and I played on the beach with the boys. It was awesome!

I would love to watch a match here too! Someone please take me :)

Kamis, 19 April 2012

I-League Division 2: A scandal riddled season

The second Division of the I-League ended on Tuesday, but this seasons Division 2 has had a high number of problems and scandals which often did not even make big headlines. Still these issues were there and shouldn't be simply forgotten then they should be looked into ahead of the next edition.

Mohammedan Sporting Club protest

After the draw with United Sikkim FC in their final game, the management of the Kolkata giants aledged that the refereeing was in favour of USFC and Baichung Bhutia. They said the former India captain influenced the match officials in his teams favour to ensure promotion.

Mohammedan Sporting president Sultan Ahmed, who is also the Union Minister of State for Tourism, claimed they have evidence and that they would lodge a formal complaint with the game's governing body, the AIFF and also write to the AFC and FIFA about the issue.

Gauhati Town Club disband team

The Assamese side Gauhati Town Club disbanded their senior football team following the participation in the preliminary round of the 2nd Division. The club officials claim to have prove that outstation players and foreigners took bribes from other teams to lose matches. This led to the drastic steps by the Gauhati Town Club management, who say they will only form a senior team again in three years time when their junior batch moves into the senior level.

But Gauhati Town Club did not lodge any formal protest, but took its decisions internally within the club and did not complain to the Assam Football Association or the AIFF with rumours saying that the management wanted to cover-up its mistakes and therefore made such public allegations.

Ar-Hima FC protest match fixing

The Shillong side Ar-Hima FC after the end of their preliminary round in Silchar alleged that United Sikkim FC had bribed teams to ensure their passage to the final round and played a weakened side in their final match against Aizawl FC after they had qualified earlier. While the first allegation was never proven and was dismissed by USFC, the second one is a non-starter then a team which has already qualified often will test its bench strength in such matches.

There are further allegations of match fixing and bribing of players doing rounds in connection with this seasons I-League Division 2, which aren't in the public domain. I just named the above as examples which are out in the open.

Now the above allegations are all serious which cannot be tolerated in football. They are out in the open and I feel the AIFF should look into these matters even if no written protest is formally send in. Then such allegations leave a bad taste which isn't good for football.

Raul to leave Schalke at end of season

Former Spanish international striker Raúl González Blanco, better known as Raul, is set to leave Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 after two seasons in the German top tier. Raul did not disclose where he will be playing next season though saying that he has two offers from outside of Europe which he is considering at the moment.

"My playing future is not in Europe," Raul said at a press conference in Gelsenkirchen today. Raul went on to say that he's reached an age (turns 35 in June) in which playing in Europe's top leagues is demanding on the body and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Raul did say that the league he picks will not be as strong as European leagues. It is being speculated that he will join Al Ahli Doha of Qatar, who are said to have made him an offer of 9 Million Euros.

The royal blues as Schalke 04 are known did make Raul an offer to extend his contract, but the Spaniard decided to end his stint in Gelsenkirchen after two successful seasons in which he scored 27 goals in 63 Bundesliga matches, won the German Cup last season and also reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. Currently Schalke are in third position and set to qualify for the UEFA Champions League again.

"They were two wonderful years that I will always bear in my heart. I was able to do what I like doing the best: playing, playing, playing," an emotional Raul said. "I also have to give the fans a special thanks for their affection and respect!"

Schalke Director of Sports and Managing Director Horst Heldt said Raul would get a farewell match in 2013, likely against a Spanish club which in an ideal case would be Real Madrid, and that Schalke would retire his No. 7 jersey for the time being.

The former Real Madrid club captain has been playing for the royals since joining them from city rivals Atletico Madrid in 1992. And he is the club's all-time highest goalscorer with 323 goals in 741 matches. He also happens to be the highest goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 71 goals. Also Raul has played 102 times for Spain scoring 44 goals, which was a record before David Villa went past the mark.

I-League: Dempo on verge of title, can East Bengal deny them?

Tomorrow evening Dempo SC take on East Bengal Club at the Nehru Stadium, Margao in a match which could decide the fate of this seasons I-League, then the Goans are on 53 points from 24 matches and the Kolkata giants on 44 points from 23 matches. A draw would be enough for Dempo's to win their fifth I-league/NFL title in eight seasons, while the red-and-gold can only keep their small title chances alive with a win but would need to win their remaining two matches while Dempo lose their final game against Prayag United SC.

Despite knowing they are on the brink, Dempo SC's chief coach Armando Colaco remains confident that his team can get the desired result.

Armando remains keen to wrap up the title in front of the home crowd itself. "Leaving it for the last match will be dangerous. I am sure that we can get a positive result against East Bengal and the boys understand the importance of the challenge," said Armando.

Dempo have been in blazing form in the last two matches at Fatorda as they recorded convincing Goan derby wins against Churchill Brothers SC (4-2) and then Sporting Clube de Goa (4-1).

"We have experienced players who know what to do. I do not need to remind them," Armando reiterated.

Armando is expected to field the same squad which demolished Sporting Clube de Goa although there was renewed hope that seasoned defender Mahesh Gawli could return from injury.

"I don't find myself under any pressure. There is nothing to lose for us against East Bengal. The pressure in fact is on East Bengal as it is a must win match for them and they are playing away from home," added the Dempo Coach.

But East Bengal are going about their business in a quiet manner and coach Trevor Morgan remains confident that his team can upset the odds and get a favourable result. East Bengal have won just once in 11 attempts against Dempo in the I-League at the Fatorda Stadium (Nehru Stadium).

However, Morgan rubbished Armando's claim that East Bengal are under pressure. "The I-League title is for Dempo to lose. The pressure is not on us; it's on them," Morgan commented.

"We are going into this match knowing that we need a win and nothing else. I am aware that even if we win this match, we may still not be Champions. But in the last stages, nothing can be predictable," Morgan explained.

East Bengal will be missing Nigerian defender Uga Okpara due to a card suspension and India Under-23 captain Raju Gaikwad will be replacing him at the back, which didn't look stable against Chirag United Kerala in a 4-3 win.

British Asian Football Ambassador Baljit Rihal goes Downing Street

Baljit Rihal; co-founder of The Asian Football Awards and also a Football Players Agent, was amongst a select list of prominent UK Sikhs invited by Prime Minister David Cameron to a Vaisakhi (Sikh festival) reception at 10 Downing Street in London on Monday, April 16.

Baljit earned his invitation by playing a prominent role in promoting young footballing talent from amongst the British Asian community. By casting a light on the Asian communities participation with the sport, Baljit hopes to tackle the issues holding back many from reaching the top professional levels of the sport.

To this end Baljit co-founded the Asian Football Awards, which this year held its inaugural awards ceremony at Wembley Stadium in January, with the full backing of the Football Association and its Chairman David Bernstein. He was also recognised for his long running involvement with Her Majesty's Judiciary where he serves as a Magistrate.

"Vaisakhi is the one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar and it's very humbling that the Prime Minister hosted such an event at the UK's seat of power," said Baljit Rihal.

A number of high profile individuals were present at the event, which celebrated the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi. They included; Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon, Baroness Warsi (Chairman of the Conservative Party), Monty Panesar (England Cricketer), Kulveer Ranger (Director of Environment for London), Chaz Singh (Deputy Mayor Plymouth), Ashpal Bhogal (England Junior Hockey) and Paul Uppal (MP).

"It was a truly magnificent event, and to be involved in a reception with such high profile guests was both an honour and a privilege. I used this opportunity to talk about the projects I am involved with regarding Asians in football. The Prime Minister mentioned that he had heard about The Asian Football Awards and was impressed that we had the support of The Football Association."

In his address at the reception, The Prime Minister David Cameron said, "Sikhs number approximately 700,000 people in the UK, their representation in all aspects of British Society show that they punch well above their weight."

Baljit's current projects include planning for the 2013 Asian Football Awards as well as a number of projects around his Player Agency portfolio with Inventive Sports. VIDEO: FC Remscheid win away at Rheydter SV

My home town team FC Remscheid here in Germany won its fourth match in a row in the Landesliga Gruppe 2 (7th German division), a 2-0 away win against Rheydter SV. The former 2.Bundesliga club are now on 51 points from 25 matches and stay in third spot. The game against Rheydter SV was a look back at better times when these two clubs used to play each other in the old Oberliga.

Here my report for after yesterday's match

Rabu, 18 April 2012

2012 Mahindra Youth Football Challenge finals

The inter-city leg of the second edition of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge will kick-off later today at the Bangalore Football Stadium and will finish with the final on April 24. Six schools qualified from over 250 schools, who will play for the title of the national Mahindra Youth Football Challenge under-14 champions.

The six participating schools - St. Aloysius High School, Bangalore; CRPF School, Delhi; St. Britto's High School, Goa; Malabar Special Police (MSP) Higher Secondary School, Malappuram, Kerala; Pandua High School, Kolkata and Don Bosco High School, Matunga, Mumbai - will play each other in a round robin league and the top two sides would meet again on Tuesday, April 24 in the finals.

Prior to the national finals the six participating schools had a four-day clinic under Celtic's Senior Football Development Officer Mark Reid along with Academy coaches Jose Romero, Mark Tobin and Tom McKay. The coaches are in Bangalore to have a look at the tournament to select the best players and give the schools and their coaches inputs on modern day youth football training.

The Mahindra Youth Football Challenge has tied-up with Scottish giants Celtic Glasgow FC and 22 children will be selected from the national schools finals for three-day coaching clinic from April 25 onwards and then the three to four most talented kids will get a chance to visit Glasgow for 10 days to see Celtic in action, their facilities and more.