Kochi: Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters are all set for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Blasters, having failed to cross the final hurdle twice, are looking to come up with an improved show this season. The team seeks a change in their fortunes by bringing in a host of talented and proven players such as former Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov and Canadian striker Iain Hume.
The team, which trained in Thailand prior to last season, will travel to Spain to attend a pre-season camp there. The introductory camp ahead of their Spain sojourn will be in Kerala, said Nimmagadda Prasad, a co-owner of the Kochi-based franchise.
In the inaugural season, the team, led by player-manager David James, had flown to Dubai as part of preparations.
Prasad, an industrialist and serial entrepreneur, revealed that the franchise would consider having an own stadium in future.
According to him, the fresh-looking Blasters have the firepower to surpass their last year’s runner-up finish.
Excerpts from an interview:
Coach, new signings
New head coach Rene Meulensteen, who was at the helm of Manchester United’s youth sides, boasts a wealth of experience in coaching young talents. His vast experience would definitely benefit the youngsters. Ajith Sivan, the U-21 signing, was in good form at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports National Championship.
We’ve seen Blasters fans supporting the club holding banners that read ‘Win or loss, we’ll be with you’. We have plans to introduce club merchandise to strengthen the club’s connection with our loyal fans.
The financial side
It will take at least five more years to turn profitable. In the first three seasons, we have lost around Rs 80 crore. It is natural. We are aware of the fact that investments in the Indian sports sector should be made with a long-term perspective. Moreover, the franchise was not established with the sole objective of making money. Sports is a force for social empowerment.