The two-month long Borivali Premier League played on weekends has attracted top players and has given a platform to younsters.
Fleet Footers and Milan Club will clash in the final of the third edition of Borivali Premier League (BPL) at the St. Francis D’Assisi High School grounds, Borivali on Wednesday. It will be a repeat of last year’s final in which Fleet Footers emerged champions. The first edition was won by Ruthless.
The final match on Independence Day will be preceded by a third place match between ND2 Soccer Starz and Maryland United to conclude the two-month tournament played mostly on weekends. The League has grown in three years seeing increased participation from players and spectators. Many top city players in the vicinity of Dahisar to Kandivli have participated in the League and few talented youngsters like Shivansh Rao and Johnson Mathews have been noticed by Indian Super League scouts through this league, according to organisers. “We started on a small scale with eight teams but now we have 12 teams separated into two pools. The semi-finals were played on Sunday. Also we get healthy spectators. On Wednesday in the final we are going to have full house,” said former state footballer Julian D’Silva who is in the organising committee of BPL.
The former Union Bank of India (UBI) footballer D’Silva who is now coaching UBI team felt it was good platform for the footballers from that area.
“Every club from a particular area has generated good fan base and they come with friends and families to the ground and create quite an atmosphere especially on Sundays here,” D’Silva added.
Many MDFA elite and super division players participate in the tournament. The youngsters get exposure as the tournament has also attracted a few Indian Super League and I-League players besides senior players in the area. Besides that, Milan Club players Nachiket Palav and Sunny Thakur have played in I-League second division.
Recently Shivansh and Johnson who are playing in the league from it’s inception were picked by ISL franchises ATK and Pune City FC scouts for the trials of their respective U-18 teams.
“Shivansh an attacking midfielder has been playing in the League for three years, he represented (champions) Ruthless and Fleet Footers in first two editions and Myrmidons SC this year. He plays for the Football Club of India in MDFA super division. BPL helped him and Johnson to get noticed by ISL teams. Shivansh is already in Kolkata giving the trials,” said Shivansh’s father Deepak Rao who is also the Secretary of the Borivali Sports Foundation that is organising this tournament.
“We have around 300 boys participating for various teams. It is 11-a-side tournament played for total 70 minutes. If you will see other similar leagues they are either five-a-side or seven-a-side played for short durations which is not good for players. We have Aiff referee’s instructor Dhanraj More in our set up who provides us top quality referees. We wantto give players a level playing field,” Rao added.