Tuesday, December 9, 2014
When the IPL started in 2008, it was expected that the Chennai franchise would be one of the top teams in the league. The success of that model has spawned similar leagues in other sports: hockey, kabbadi, tennis and football. Chennai does not have a team in the kabbadi league; the tennis league is in a different, international format and again, Chennai does not have a team there. Though the city fielded a team in the Premier Hockey League (Chennai Veerans), it does not have one in the Indian Hockey League that replaced the PHL.
That leaves football. There were no great expectations from Chennaiyin FC (Chennai's FC) when the Indian Super League began. The team is owned by three non-Chennaiites - Vita Dani (Dhirubhai Ambani's niece), Abhishek Bachhan and M.S.Dhoni. The last named is an adopted son of the city, being the captain of its IPL cricket team. That was the local connect; even the main sponsor, the Ozone Group, is Bengaluru-headquartered. That did not stop the Chennaiites from putting their weight behind the team. And Chennaiyin FC responded by pulling off some firsts: Balwant Singh became the first Indian player to score in the league, Elano Blumer was the first marquee player in the league to score - and is leading the competition for the Golden Boot. And the team has gone on to top the league (well, there is a match to be played tomorrow, which may see Chennaiyin FC going into second place), but hey, we're into the semis.
The team's logo has caused some debate about what it represents. Whatever the official version be, I think it is just symbolic of what we'd do to the competition. We are just going to நாக் (naak) them out!