The Indian football calendar is flawed right now. The way it is set up is that I-League teams begin congregating in July for pre-season but don’t actually start playing league matches until sometime in January thanks to the 3 month Indian Super League tournament that goes on from October to December. So what this essentially means is that the I-League pre-season is long and with a limited number of local competitions, it’s easy for the technical and administrative staff of any football organisation to start getting antsy.
All of us who are truly passionate about this sport experience its emotional roller coaster on a weekly, and sometimes, even daily basis and, while it’s not always enjoyable, the beautiful game offers an extraordinary release of pent up energy that one can always appreciate in hindsight. Ask any footballer or passionate club supporter and most will say that they have probably suffered more than experienced ecstasy while playing for or supporting their respective club yet I am confident that most would still go through it all over again if given the opportunity. The reason is simple: the anticipation and regular release of emotion is much better than the static, complacency that plagues most people’s lives this day and age.
Anyway, I’ll stop trying to pretend that I’m a Psychologist and get back to what I wanted to share. Given the fact that our I-League pre-season is 6 months long with little competition, I could see that frustrations were starting to surface around the club. Little issues suddenly became catastrophes and everyone in the organisation was ready for more activity, a release of emotions. Fortunately, DSK Cup finally arrived and served as our collective therapy session.
DSK Cup, launched in 2014, is an all India invitational tournament created by the DSK Group and annually organised by DSK Shivajians FC administrative staff. Typically 12 I-League teams participate in the tournament representing states from all over the country in addition to a few local clubs from Pune This year was special as we focused on inviting many of the new, upcoming professional organisations like Ozone FC (Bengaluru), Fateh Hyderabad (Hyderabad), Minerva Academy (Chandigarh) and Lonestar Kashmir (Srinagar).
My entire staff was involved with the organisation of the event and we entered both our senior team as well as our U18 I-League team into the competition. This meant that every day there was operational work to be done from morning to evening, games to watch and, of course, matches to prepare for and play. As a football lover and CEO of the organisation, it was heaven to host the next generation of football clubs on our campus and see our entire organisation of 120 people actively involved with the property.
In the end, our senior team beat Ozone FC 3-2 in a highly charged final allowing DSK Shivajians FC to take home our 3rd consecutive DSK Cup champions trophy in front of hordes of supporters. More than winning, I was most happy about how we won. We played with a number of Academy graduates who, despite limited senior team experience, played with an incredible amount of heart and fight which ultimately helped us overcome an experienced and feisty Ozone FC squad.
After the match and for the next few days, there were smiles, there were high-fives, there were hugs, there were long, heart-felt speeches, there were relaxed looks on the faces of all involved with our club. Even now the champions hangover effect is still slightly evident, however most of us have moved on to focus on preparations for the quickly approaching I-League season
Anyway, what I gathered from this experience is that when it comes to keeping highly committed, highly charged & highly emotional football coaches, administrators and players happy, nothing works better than engagement and positive results.