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Zee has big plans for Indian football

September 29, 2005 15:57 IST

Zee Sports, which snapped Indian football's television and marketing rights, is planning an advertisement blitzkrieg featuring top footballers, in a bid to make their names as popular as a Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly.

On September 7, the new sports channel bagged the All-India Football Federation's television and marketing rights for five years, at an estimated Rs.2.5-2.75 billion.

Now the first thing the channel wants to do is run a sustained television and billboard campaign promoting the game and also its Indian stars.

"An odd star or two like Baichung Bhutia may be known to people where football is not popular, but our aim is to make Indian soccer stars recognisable from Kashmir to Kanyakumari," a Zee Sports official said.

Zee has selected footballers from top 16 Indian clubs and shooting promotions on them.

"I'm Dipankar Roy. East Bengal's midfielder. I grew up playing soccerÂ…," goes an introduction by one of the players.

Many more front-ranking players like Bhutia, I M Vijayan, Alvito D'Cunha and Mohun Bagan captain Mehtab Hussain will be featured in the campaigns.

Shots of the players at training, at home would be juxtaposed with these brief interviews to come up with a scintillating package on the lives of professional Indian footballers, and thereby, subtly telling audiences that things are happening in Indian football as well.

These profile-based campaigns go on air later this month on Zee's various channels.

AIFF officials said these player packages have been modelled in such a way that they motivate youngsters to take an interest in football not only from a sports lover's point of view, but also as a career option.

M Chhaya in Kolkata