INTERVIEW WITH - Jose Barreto, Mohun Bagan legend

ISL MEDIA RELEASE - 12.07.20 : Q : What does it mean for Mohun Bagan to come into the ISL after a long wait?
Jose Barreto :: It has been a long story. Since 2014-15, all the supporters of Mohun Bagan have been dreaming to be part of it. Finally, it has become a reality. The dream has come true for the supporters. It is a great feeling as an ex-Mohun Bagan star and as a Mohun Bagan fan. I am sure all the fans share my excitement as well. It is a great step taken by the Mohun Bagan club. Two giants are coming together to help build a great team in the ISL.
INTERVIEW WITH JOSE BARRETO Q : The jersey and logo have been retained. Your thoughts.
Jose Barreto :: Feeling relieved about the logo and the colours of the shirt are there. I don’t think so the name ATK will affect it in any way. The logo and the colours are something that we fans are emotional about. We are happy with the decision of the management, the board of directors at ATK Mohun Bagan. I don't think supporters could think of going to the stadium and see Mohun Bagan with different colours. You can’t imagine a Mohun Bagan fan putting the green and maroon shirt away and calling any other colour the club shirt. It would be difficult for them.

Q : What does it mean for Indian football?
Jose Barreto :: See, Mohun Bagan has come with a huge history. All these years, they have conquered a lot. And ATK, during their time as well, has been a club that has been successful. ATK has always fought and remained within the championship race. I think it’s a great combination. It is like two spirits coming together is what I feel. It’s going to be great having ATK and Mohun Bagan together. It’s going to make a huge difference. ATK now comes in with the whole crowd of Mohun Bagan behind them. And for Mohun Bagan, they have the spirit of ATK with them, a great combination.

Q : How will this help the ISL?
Jose Barreto :: Mohun Bagan in the ISL, with ATK now, will call attention. It is a great move by ISL too, to welcome them in. I am excited but not only in India, all over the world there are lots of Mohun Bagan supporters who will be excited like me. They will be looking forward to seeing the fast game of ATK Mohun Bagan. Of course, it is going to bring a lot to the ISL. It is going to create a different energy and to have both of these clubs together, is a huge asset for ISL.

Q : How big is this for the Mohun Bagan supporters?
Jose Barreto :: For them, it’s like seeing a dream getting fulfilled. Initially, the dream was for Mohun Bagan to come in as a franchise in the ISL but now, I feel it is a good combination. Maybe, for Mohun Bagan to come into the ISL by themselves, could have been something new because the expectations would be sky high. The fast style in the ISL and the pace could have taken Mohun Bagan some time to adjust. But, ATK have already been in the ISL for the last six years. Mohun Bagan joined in at the right moment with the right team. This combination has everything in itself to work out and be successful. We can go on about the change of name, which I feel is very nominal. One can say why not Mohun Bagan ATK but there are far more positives rather than looking at negatives if any. With time, supporters will get used to it.

Q : Message to the likes of David Williams and Roy Krishna on how to handle Mohun Bagan’s expectations….
Jose Barreto :: Players like it. It is something that we don’t mind. We love to be adored. We like people to appreciate what we are doing. Players who are going to come into ATK Mohun Bagan this coming season will see something different. Yes, there will be people in the stands but there are going to be people who will worship you and you are going to be treated as a star. The adulation among supporters in Kolkata, you can’t find it anywhere. Changing people’s lives is a reward for players. I think it is something we love. The coach, Mr Habas and the technical staff, all are going to feel something different and I am sure the supporters will really make it special.

Q : As a Mohun Bagan legend, how does it feel to be now associated with another great team?
Jose Barreto :: See, it is something we didn’t plan at the beginning of ISL to be the way we joined the league. This is a first in ISL but this could set a precedent for I League clubs could join ISL clubs to get into the ISL. At the beginning, there was a lot of chatter from all sorts of quarters. Everyone had their own opinion but with time, you take a look and say, wow, this is really normal.

Q : What do you expect from ATK Mohun Bagan off the pitch?
Jose Barreto :: You don’t have to worry about the galleries being filled in any Bagan game. The fans will be supporting ATK Mohun Bagan. In terms of player signings, again, not bothered because ATK has been doing great the last few years, Mohun Bagan is also a club that is always going for the best. My only request for ATK Mohun Bagan will be to invest as much as they can for grassroots and youth programs. That is where the state of Bengal really needs them. Maybe in the future, we can have a lot of talents coming from Bengal once again. Focus on youth development and set it as your priority to help Indian football.

Q : In your playing days, there was no corporatization of football clubs and to now, you are serving Indian football in a very different role with RFYC. How do you see the change?
Jose Barreto :: I really dreamt of seeing a change. During my playing time, one day I wanted to see the improvement of football in this country. I am really proud and happy to see the corporate world join hands to develop the sport in this country. I really feel there is a lot of talent but unfortunately, owing to lack of finances, it’s not being pulled up. We must catch it. ISL has done well to bring in the corporates together. You have to utilize the resources and make use of it the right way.

Q : Message for East Bengal and its fans…
Jose Barreto :: See, Bagan and East Bengal are two giants. You can’t forget Mohammedan also. They are a giant in Kolkata. These three clubs are huge. If there is a dream, it can never be over until it is fulfilled. This was the time of Mohun Bagan now to join ISL. Surely East Bengal is also looking hard to come into the ISL. Probably, it is a question of time. There could be a time soon East Bengal comes into the ISL and it will be then interesting to see a derby. ATK Mohun Bagan versus East Bengal or maybe East Bengal too could have another name and join in with another ISL club, who knows. This will bring a lot for the league. Just keeping hope and keeping the faith, it is possible.

INTERVIEW WITH - Sanjiv Goenka, Principal Owner ATK Mohun Bagan

10.07.2020 - ISL MEDIA RELEASE : Q : Initial thoughts
Sanjiv Goenka : To my mind, it is the recognition of the emotion, the passion, the legacy of Mohun Bagan. We have gone with the Maroon and Green jersey. We have gone with the existing logo and the name of the club will be ATK Mohun Bagan. When I grew up, Green and Maroon were very much part of my being. A few months ago, I happened to go to the Salt Lake Stadium to watch the East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan Kolkata Derby. And on that day, it was very clear in my mind that the passion that the fans share for green and maroon is the same that I have. And that was the day, at least in my mind that the decision was made. I came and shared it with my team.
Sanjiv Goenka, Principal Owner ATK Mohun Bagan
Q : Was there any doubt in your mind?
. Sanjiv Goenka : To my mind, there was never any debate. But, I think there was a question of the whole ATK team who are equally passionate about red and white, equally passionate about the ATK logo and all the stakeholders there. So, it was a process that we had to undergo and we wanted to build a consensus around this.

Q : 29 July is Mohun Bagan Day. How important is it for you and what are your plans going forward?
. Sanjiv Goenka : Well, 29th July this year will be far more important than it has ever been for sure. I have a diary that I maintain and 29th July has been put into that. It's an important day and I look forward to it.

Q : Will ATKMB play only in the ISL or tournaments like the CFL as well?
. Sanjiv Goenka : What is very clear is that we cannot play in the ISL and the I-League both. So we will play in the ISL. But, we should be playing in all other leagues as well. And I do not want to over a period of time confine it to local leagues or national leagues only. I think we have to build ourselves, our competencies, our strengths, and capabilities to an extent where we can participate in international competitions. And my target is the AFC Champions League. We have to prepare for that and at some stage, we have to play in it.

Q : Thoughts about using the Mohun Bagan facilities.
. Sanjiv Goenka: If I can, I would like to upgrade the facilities at the Mohun Bagan ground. It is part of the city's history. As we have grown up, each one of us has seen that it is iconic. But, it needs up-gradation, modernization, and needs to be reconstructed in a manner that is different. And, if I can I would definitely like to upgrade the facilities such that to begin with we can have ISL games there. But over a period of time, maybe have AFC games there as well and really build it into a world-class facility.

Q : Thought about the extreme love from fans, you win they'll love you, you lose, they'll throw stuff at you?
. Sanjiv Goenka: That is part of the legacy, part of the passion. It is a part of the sentiment of the Mohun Bagan fan towards the Mohun Bagan club. And, there is no getting away from that. In a sport, you win some, you lose some. But, as long as we keep winning the relevant ones, and winning enough and the ratio of wins is higher than the losses, I think we are okay. Yes, disappointment will be huge as excitement and happiness will be big when you win. That is the way sport is.

Q : A word for the Mohun Bagan fans spread around the world...
. Sanjiv Goenka : To me, green and maroon are my colours. Green and maroon it is. The logo remains the same, ATK Mohun Bagan is the new name of the club. To each fan, all I can say is that you are important, your emotions are important, and above all, your blessings are important. I am sensitive to each one of this and I will try my best to live up to your expectations.

Q : Any different away jersey?
. Sanjiv Goenka : The away jersey will be white and red with green and maroon stripes on it. That is not yet unveiled nor is absolutely finalized. We have earlier thought it would be the ATK jersey with the new logo for the away kit. But today, Tumpai (Srinjoy Bose) and Debasish (Dutta) made a very good suggestion that why don't we introduce green and maroon in the jersey. So we will do that.

Q : Message for both sets of ATK and Mohun Bagan fans..
. Sanjiv Goenka : To the ATK fans, thank you so much for your overwhelming support over the last six years. And thanks to your support, we have been able to bring three out of the six cups back home. To the Mohun Bagan and the ATK Mohun Bagan fans, believe in us. We want to win, we want to excel and we will. And we will make you proud of the club, as proud as you have ever been.