WIFA sign Rs 100 crore deal for state football development

Mumbai: Western India Football Association (WIFA) on Wednesday signed Rs 100 crore ten-year deal with one-year-old private entity, Sporting Ace for development of the game across the length and breadth of Maharashtra.

"This deal will involve holistic development of football across all verticals," said WIFA secretary Souter Vaz at a media conference to announce the sponsorship.

The Maharashtra governing body feels the deal would help to promote the game at the grassroots level.

"Football is popular in all districts of the state and that needs to be channelised. This is what the partnership is capable of achieving," Vaz said.

As part of the development process WIFA is planning an inter-region talent hunting tournament "Maha Yudh" and has also decided to revive the 122-year-old "Rovers Cup" tournament, that has been in limbo for over a decade, with an overall prize fund of Rs 1 crore.

"Rovers Cup" is to be played on the artificial turf of the Cooperage stadium (in Mumbai) between July 27 and August 11, 2013 and would involve the top teams from the I-League and foreign outfits, besides offering prize money of Rs 1 crore.

"AIFF has agreed to the dates of Rovers. It does not clash with any other event in the calendar," Menezes said.

"WIFA will continue the gigantic step to make Maharashtra a force to reckon with in Indian football," said Vaz.

WIFA CEO and former India goalkeeper Henry Menezes called it "a new era in Maharashtra`s football."

"In the past we had signed up partners but there was no road map. Now there is a road map and money is also here to execute the plans. I reckon by the 4th or 5th year (of the deal) Maharashtra will be the leading football playing state in the country," Menezes said.

Sporting Ace MD Sagar Pol Chowdhury and directors Kingshuk Gupta and Zulfikar Mohammed are football lovers, said Gupta.

"The marketing will be done by a well known company whose identity will be known later," he added.