No glitz. No glamour. No film personalities (yet). Just a quiet, determined focus on football. Meet the latest entrants to the world of professional football in India – Fateh Hyderabad Associated Football Club (AFC). Slated to be part of the Second Division I-League, Fateh Hyderabad AFC is set to put Hyderabad back on the map after a long break away from professional football in the country.
However, unlike most other clubs in India, Fateh Hyderabad AFC will adopt a bottom-up approach where the majority of their investments will be plowed into creating an ecosystem that allows the sport to thrive. Led by Columbia University-educated Yogesh Maurya who is also a private equities professional, the club has its sights firmly set on the long term. Rather than a mad scramble to qualify for the First Division I-League at the very first attempt, Fateh Hyderabad will focus on youth development and developing good infrastructure for football in the city to flourish.
Speaking about the club’s operating model, Maurya had this to say:
“I remain focused on grassroots. As I looked at different models, I felt we needed to create an entire ecosystem. The majority of our operating budget is going into infrastructure and grassroots, not the professional team. (But) We had to create the ladder and show professional opportunities.”
“My business model has never depended on the professional team being successful. The ISL, obviously, is a huge demand on investment. I am a bottom-up model, but I love the promotion the game is getting.”
At a time when I-League clubs are downing shutters and ISL teams are recording huge losses, it is a brave move to establish a new football club in India. Despite the odds, Maurya seems willing to take a contrarian view, swim against the tide and make mistakes as he nurtures his undoubted passion for the beautiful game.
More power to Fateh Hyderabad and more hope for football in India!