The former left-handed batsman said football was overshadowed by cricket's glamour and by starting up a franchise it was a time to give something back to the sport which occupies the heart of Bengal.
     
"It's an opportunity for all of us to give something back to the sport. A popular sport which is neglected in India. I won't say 'neglected' but I think which is covered by the razzmatazz of cricket in this country," Ganguly said in his address during the ceremonial launch of Atletico de Kolkata.      

"We never looked at numbers and the financial figures, it was a straightforward and bold decision. All we wanted was a team from Kolkata. We really don't know what's the future of this but unless and until we don't begin somewhere we don't know where we will finish.
     
"For me it's a beginning of something special hopefully. Having played football before I picked the cricket bat, I think this sport is in the heart of the city," he said.
     
With chief minister Mamata Banerjee assuring all the support to the new team, Ganguly hoped that they would also emerge champions like what Kolkata Knight Riders did.
     
"As Didi said she was part of a cricket team that won the IPL, hopefully we can have another team that win the ISL this year," Ganguly said.
     
"We all talk about cricket, we have our club Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL. Hopefully Atletico de Kolkata will start the football chapter of the sport that is very close to all of us in Bengal."
     
Atletico de Kolkata will have their home ground at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, the giant 1, 20,000 capacity stadium in Saltlake.
     
Ganguly hoped that the tournament would uplift the infrastructure in the state.
     
"Hopefully, with this we will improve the infrastructure. I've spoken to Didi about their upcoming academy in the state hopefully we too will be associated with that. The biggest reason to start the ISL is that to provide the infrastructure. You look at the cricket grounds around the world, they have the best infrastructure," he said.
     
"Hopefully we can create that in football and provide youngsters the facilities. We have a world class partners with us," Ganguly said.
     
Ganguly further thanked their Spanish partners Atletico Madrid, who won the La Liga this season.
     
"We thank Atletico Madrid for partnering us. Our partners had a wonderful season in the Spanish League, we thank for their association with us. I'm sure it will make our club a really formidable one," the former Indian captain said.

(Agencies)

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