Margao (Goa), Nov 25 : The premier club football league of the country, the National Football League (NFL) has taken another step towards putting Indian football on the rails of 'professionalism', and has assumed a new name called I-League.
The Oil and Natural Gas Cooperation (ONGC) sponsored league kicked off with a match between defending champion Dempo Sports Club and Salgaocar Sports Club at the Nehru Stadium in Margao.
Bollywood actor John Abraham, who stars in recently released Bollywood film "Dhan Dhana Dan Goal" with the game of football as its theme, started the event by kicking a football.
The actor hoped that football would soon become as popular as cricket in the country.
"Unfortunately, football has not picked up the way cricket has in the country. But I am sure that with the league and with all the promotion campaigns, football is going to pick up in the country," said John.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Priyaranjan Dasmusi said that football already pulls more crowds in West Bengal than cricket.
"In an international cricket match when India-Pakistan play, 60-70 thousand people gather at the Eden Gardens, but during the domestic football match of the Federation Cup and during the local league match of the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan around 100,000 people gather in Calcutta stadium," said Dasmunsi.
The I-League promises to start a fresh endeavour aimed at revamping the club football system in the country.
The I-League will retain the NFL home-away format but there will be a greater reward -- Rs. 50 lakh for the winner and Rs. 28 lakh for the runner-up -- to fight for. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI