For one, he works in ONGC, arguably the biggest Indian company. Among all public sector companies, ONGCs’ is a prized employment. It also sponsors the prestigious National football League (NFL) organized by All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is the annual team-level football tournament in India.
For another, professional career for sportspeople is almost non-existent in India, except for handful of cricketers. Therefore, to earn money playing full-time, especially for footballers, is nearly unthinkable.
Thus when Mohun Bagan medio Mehtab Hussein decides to quit his job to turn pro (ABP, Nov 20), it certainly deserves praise. ONGC wants to play in Mumbai football league, to be followed by debuting in NFL second division. ONGC deserves credit for the simple reason that it at last indicates an inclination on part of Indian corporate world to take football seriously. This despite the presence of several bank teams and teams from railways and services, who in most cases are no better than Kolkata’s innumerable club teams.
If ONGC succeeds in making its presence felt in NFL in days to come like Mumbai’s Mahindra United, it’ll surely open a new chapter in Indian dismal football scenario. But Mehtab’s case is different.
He doesn’t want to stagnate in Mumbai’s football, having donned national colors and now playing for Mohun Bagan, one of the premier football clubs of the country. His leaving ONGC job to enter into a contract with his old club indicates that he is very serious in pursuing his professional career. For talent-starved Indian football, this brings a whiff of fresh air.