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Shirish Kulkarni talks about Liverpool-DSK tie up, football in the country and more

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 - 8:39am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Shirish Kulkarni is executive director, of Liverpool International Football Academy — DSK Shivajians. A former footballer himself, he is responsible for getting a international flavour to city football, in collaboration with English Premier League team Liverpool. He spoke to Joe Williams on football in the country in general and with more emphasis on city football and his academy
  • Sirish Kulkarni Pratham Gokhale dna

You are a businessman first and then the rest, but what is that which has interested you in promoting football...
I have been a footballer since school. I understand the game from a players as well as an administrative perspective. India lacks that bit of professionalism and as having the financial advantage which I should have to use somewhere I decided to use it for football.

DSK has tied up with EPL Liverpool. What is in store for them?
This is an academy tie-up. We are using their footballing expertise which they have developed over a 122 years. We will be training children across all age groups until they are 19 years of age and will make sure they reach the desired level of international football.

Everyone is talking about Indian Football league (ISL). What is your take on it? Will it boost Indian football?
It will certainly get a lot of eyes on the game and the tournament itself but in the long run unless it becomes a year long league and not a tournament it will not help the game at all. They need to make it mandatory for all teams to have infrastructure, academies, youth teams and coaching licence program’s. If this happens only then it will actually progress.

Tells us more about DSK Shivajians Football Academy. Will it be an in-house group for aspirants? I mean would DSK also take care of the academics of members?
The boys in the academy will be given schooling, football training, food and stay. Nothing comes for free they all have to pay for these activities but if you are willing to work hard towards it and we do have scholarship options for them.

When do you see the light in Indian football?
If the administration continues like this, then we might see only players developing but not India as a team. If we adopt and adapt what is necessary for developing ourselves as a footballing nation we will be able to achieve it in 10years. It’s bright but it also needs to be taken care of. If AIFF does not take the right steps then it could be disaster sooner than expected.

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