DSK Shivajians to debut in 2015-16 I-League through direct entry

NEW CORPORATE CLUB DSK Shivajians will make its debut in the 2015-16 I-League to "infuse more professionalism and raise the competitiveness" of the country's premier tournament, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said on Thursday.

The Pune-based club qualified through direct bidding to take part in the upcoming I-League season. This development comes amid reports that the city's other two corporate clubs --- Pune FC and Bharat FC -- will shut down their operations and won't participate in the forthcoming season.

The club, originally named Shivajians Football Club, was acquired by business conglomerate DSK Group in 2010 and was subsequently rechristened DSK Shivajians FC. It made its debut on the national stage in the I-League second division in 2013. 

The club has entered into a collaboration with English football club Liverpool FC for its grassroots and youth development.

"For us the grassroot programme is very important in identifying the youngsters first and letting them play the game at a participation level. From there, if we can identify certain talent which comes through, we can nurture them over the years and it would be a natural progression for those talent into our senior team which is something we hope to build," Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy, CEO, DSK Shivajians FC, said in the statement.

"We are really excited to be a part of the Hero I-League and we look forward to competing with all the big clubs of Indian Football. We know its going to be a big challenge for us but we have full confidence in our own abilities," Shirish Kulkarni, president of the club, said.

"We are glad that DSK Shivajians have come up with a bid to join the Hero I-League. They have made a very good presentation about their work on grassroots, youth development and the DSK Shivajians - Liverpool Academy. Although some minor formalities are remaining, their entry in the Hero I-League will ensure a representation from Pune," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.

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