With just 21 days left for the grand opening ceremony of Hero Indian Super League 2016, the entire Northeast region is slowly waking up to the world focus it is going to receive on 1st October. Football is not new to this region; the beautiful game is loved across eight sister state of India, but ISL 2016 will be special as Guwahati, for the first time, gets the honour to host the opening ceremony at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
Nobody is more excited than John Abraham. The passionate NorthEast United FC owner is among the game’s biggest supporter and is eagerly awaiting for 1st October when all eyes will be focused on Guwahati as NorthEast United FC face Kerala Blasters in the opening game.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how big it is for us. It is fantastic! Finally, we can give the North-East an occasion to be proud off and to feel good about being the centre of attraction for the Indian Super League. We are a football hub and it was important for the people of the region to feel recognised. We are privileged and honoured,” said the Bollywood star.
John thanked Mrs. Nita Ambani, chairperson of Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL), for giving the club NorthEast United an opportunity to embolden the rich football heritage of the region.
“I want to especially thank Mrs Nita Ambani for awarding Guwahati the honours of hosting this mega event. We have been working towards this for quite some time now and I am ecstatic that we will finally be hosting the opening ceremony at one of the homes of Indian football,” he said.
In the past, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Goa have been hosted either the opening ceremony or the final but for the first time the ISL has chosen Northeast to host one of the marquee events of Indian sport.
“When young kids will watch this mega event, they will hopefully be inspired by the magnitude of it all and tell themselves, ‘I want to perform on a stage like this one day’. Such events always give a fillip to the community and aspiring athletes. I can assure you that the entire region will be gearing up for the opening ceremony,” said John.
Interestingly, NorthEast United FC have always had Kerala Blasters as their opening game opponent in the last two seasons of ISL. While NorthEast United FC won by a solitary goal when the ISL was launched in 2014, Kerala Blasters got their revenge the next year with a 3-1 victory. This time around, the hosts are looking for reasons to celebrate not just the opening ceremony but three points as well.
“I have told the boys to go out and enjoy themselves. Such occasions are rare and are not an everyday occurrence for athletes. I want the team to do themselves and the fans to feel proud. The result does not matter, the efforts do. I am sure the fans will be out in full voice. Kerala Blasters will be great opposition and hopefully the football on the pitch shall give us reasons to celebrate,” said John.