Paes says he is keen to promote Indian football

Kolkata: Indian tennis icon Leander Paes, who will participate in the Olympics for the sixth time next year, said he is keen to promote Indian football, perhaps in the role of a brand ambassador.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has also responded positively to Paes` proposal as the senior vice-president Subrata Dutta assured that he would consult with the AIFF President Praful Patel on the matter.

"We would be more than eager to have a world famous athlete like Leander on board. I will have a word with the President," said Dutta.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of Indian Football Awards, organised by the Football Players` Association of India last night, the 12-time Grand Slam winner Paes said football is in his blood and he would like to motivate the youngsters to take up the sport.

"I`ve both Goan and Bengali genes, so football is in my blood. I would love to be associated with Indian football," said Paes.

"I remember as a young kid I used to spend a lot of time playing football. If I can motivate young children and show them that with a small ball they can travel the world, it will be really nice. I am willing to help in my own little way, if the football federation is looking for someone who can promote the brand," he added.

Paes said Bhaichung Bhutia, Jose Barreto and Beto are his favourite footballers in India.

The 38-year-old, who has recovered from his injury and is ready to return to competitive tennis next week, said the secret of his longevity in sport is his simple life.

"There is no shortcut to success. I don`t smoke and I lead a clean life. I will be featuring in my sixth Olympics (in London 2012), if I can motivate the youngsters to grow as athletes, I will be really happy.

"More and more youngsters should try to become good athletes, who can make India a sporting nation," he said.


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