Sudeva FC, which is based in Delhi is surely one of the most prominent clubs of the region. Having played I league 2nd Division in the 2016-17 season, now they are eyeing for a higher spot. We were privileged enough to get in talks with Mr. Anuj Gupta the co founder of Sudeva Fc. Here are some valuable outtakes of the interview.
1) How did u get involved in football as an investor/owner?
” In 2014 our Co- founder (Vijay) and I wanted to do something which would have legacy. I was captain of Shree Ram College of Commerce. I played for Delhi university and also for Cardiff university from where I pursued Law. I was always passionate of football. I insisted Vijay that we should go forward. We knew about football, and accordingly we started analyzing the Football Market. Our main aim was to create not only national level footballers but international football stars.”
2) Can u tell us about Sudeva FC and its journey till now?
Initially we used to run a couple of school academy’s but then we realized that this wont work. To begin with we had started academy in Sohna in Vedas international school where Bhaichung Bhutia football school is being operated currently. After first season we decided to move out and come down to Delhi where we created a residential academy in which I invested my savings. Then Vijay and I started travelling all over the country and started scouting for the talents based on age categories.We began our campaign in youth I league and slowly our performance started improving. Later on we started playing in the Delhi zone and reached the semi-finals of U-13 I league for both the years and at the same time lot of players were called up for the Indian national team camp . 2 of the U-16 team players (Gk and the Striker- Shubho Paul) have been produced by us. When the U-17 world cup happened in 2017, our ground was used as a training ground at that the time I decided that I need to be in Europe and accordingly I traveled to Europe and identified clubs who are willing to sell.
Eventually I bought CD Olimpic de Xativa and started residential academy. Our club has the oldest existing stadium in Spain which was built around 1924. Currently we have 35 residential boys out of which 30 are Indians.We need to work for producing international players which would take India to the world cup eventually.
3) Why did you choose the name ‘Sudeva’ for the club?
‘Su’ means good and ‘Deva’ means teacher, the idea behind this name is about the philosophy which we are trying to imbibe in every staff. We can’t produce all the great players but if we give them right training then at least they’d pass out as good humans. It only comes with good teaching. So, I think that it is very important in Indian football fraternity to work for good teaching because I always believe that if you don’t know then don’t teach so this word doesn’t resembles with football only but it also resembles with philosophy. Most of the clubs have football element but need to get some philosophical aspect per say.
4) How many total clubs are you involved with?
As of now I am involved with 2 clubs,one is Sudeva fc and the other is Xativa
5) What was your motive behind the club participating in I league 2nd division ?
Idea is to give chance to young talents secondly we want to play in the I league so the only way for us to go for that was to win the 2nd division and go up so that is the reason.
6) What is your next venture with Sudeva fc? Can we expect you in top division of Indian football?
Recently Delhi Dynamos have shifted to Odisha, so right now there is no club from Delhi playing at the top tier. So we will definitely try to take this opportunity and whenever the AIFF will open the biding, we will grab that chance. Delhi being the Capital of the country its really very important to have a club from this particular city.
7)Having 85% stakes in Xativa Fc, how will it aid the Indian football and players?
Now there are around 30 kids from India in Xativa and 5 out of them are with scholarship so they will get trained and educated as well. around 16 Indian players are registered as Spanish club players and they are competing with other Spanish clubs and
gaining experience and exposure. Indeed it is difficult to have a workvisa in Europe because of the rigid policies.
I have been able to register them with the club so they can play federation league.
They are playing in the 6th division ,couple of them are in the 3rd division and some of the U-19 lads are in the 3rd and 4th divisions. Well, this is a great opportunity for these boys and all the future players who will join the club. The main positive of it is, they are saving their time by learning things in a year which would have rather costed them around 2 to 3 years in India.
8)Can we expect Xativa FC to play pre season in India if possible?
If we get a spot in the I league then things might happen. We all are thinking about it, highly depends on the future possibilities.
9)Many Indian players went to Spain under your leadership so what are the challenges players face?
Longer seasons are one of the main issues as we are not used to put in such long shifts on a daily basis. Mentally players lack motivation as every day they are supposed to do the same things. In terms of fitness and technique our boys are as good as them so with time they will improve tactically as well .Language barrier is a challenge but the Indian boys learn language very fast owing to the fact that India is a multilingual nation.
10)What challenges do the players face in terms of visas and signing?
Actually the Spanish embassy is very good because all the boys go on student visa and they have to enroll in any school or university. Accordingly as the kids get offer letters, on that basis, we prepare documentation and sponsorship of Sudeva also performs a vital role in nurturing the players.
11)What is your take on the footballing culture in Delhi?
Delhi is a multi cultural metropolitan city. With many things happening in and around the city, its pretty difficult to develop a culture of any particular sport. What we can do is,we can get more schools involved during the matches as a part of their exposure trips during the matches so it will help to create a culture. I personally feel that at the academy level there are many academies in the Delhi NCR which is good thing. But to develop a fanbase you need a team playing at the top level as in, ISL or the I league. If local players do play at such a level then it’d definitely help establishing a culture. It’s a long process and it’d take time.
12)Can you name a player to watch out for from your youth or senior teams?
I don’t want to create rifts in between the players by giving out the names. The best way to judge the players is to join us during the matches and watch them play.
I can assure you that in the age groups of u13 ,u16 ,u19 and in the senior team I have around 15 players who can play for India or who will play for the national team in the coming future. I believe that when given an opportunity, my players should not falter and so I want the opportunity come our way on its own rather than we gong after it.
13)If your club participates in the I league what kind of gameplay would you adopt?
We will stick to the Sudeva’s style of play that we always practice on the pitch. Its more of a tiki taka ,we always play from the back. We like to play possession based
football.Speaking about the targets of the club, they depend upon the other factors but my personal target is to create a culture and to see to it that more people come to the stadium.
14)Do Xativa fc have a football philosophy where they put coach and players to fit in that or do, they introduce the new system according to the type of coach and players they have?
They have a Spanish philosophy and it is a very old club. 80% of the philosophy obviously remains the same but 20% depends on the experience and style of the coach. In totality, the philosophy is all about more possession and attack based football. Also the youth is given priority as they are the future of any club.
15) Insights about your Grassroot Programs.
We are planning to open more school academies in the coming seasons. Our one major goal is to have a Center Of Excellence to cater the extra demand from all over the India. This would possibly help the one’s who want to join Sudeva.
16)What difficulties did you face during the trails?
The idea behind conducting trials is to meet parents and the players. To know where they
come from. So these elements play a key role while scouting. The biggest problem arises when we take trails at places where there is no footballing culture. Marketing about the trials becomes a task in such areas.
17) Any message for the youth?
Living your dream is the most important aspect. It doesnt matter whether you make it or not, what matters is to visualize a dream and work towards it. Never stop dreaming, eventually you will achieve what you dreamed once.
We would like to thank Anuj sir for the great inputs and his precious time. We also wish the best for the club, the management, the support staff and everyone involved in the process!