Chairperson and Founder of Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani and Bollywood actor John Abraham who is also the owner of Indian Super League (ISL) franchise NorthEast United FC expressed their readiness to partner with the Meghalaya government in building sports infrastructure in the state.
Nita Ambani and John Abraham were in Shillong on Monday to witness the final match of the inter-school girls football tournament played between Nongkrem Presbyterian Secondary School and Nongkrem Higher Secondary School sponsored by Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) at Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex in Polo Ground here.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, his wife Mehtab Chandi Agitok Sangma, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, All India Football Federation Vice President, Larsing Ming Sawyan were also present on the occasion.
Later Ambani and Abraham left Shillong to witness the opening home match of NorthEast United FC against Goa FC played at Indira Gandhi International Stadium in Guwahati.
“RFYS is keen to partner with Meghalaya government in building sports infrastructure and we would love to talk to the government and help in every way possible for the national games,” Ambani said.
Meghalaya will host the National Games in 2022. Meghalaya will also celebrate its 50th year of statehood in 2022. Ambani said that it was a great meeting with the chief minister and the impetus is going to be on sports and building infrastructure for sports. She also said that RFYS is also with John Abraham in building a sports academy in Meghalaya.
“It will be wonderful and with the National Games in 2022, the whole nation is excited and looking towards Meghalaya for this large sporting event. We have already reached out to 109 schools who participated this year from Meghalaya alone, and I think this place is so rich in talent. We have a young 12 year old as a young champ from Meghalaya and we fondly call him “Tang” he is a wonderful player he is one of our young champs,” Ambani said.
Stating that sports and education are something that Reliance Foundation is keen to participate, Ambani said, “For me, they are my two passions. We would love to help in building infrastructure of schools in the Northeast and in Meghalaya. RFYS aims to develop a sporting culture in India through the medium of educational institutes. We endeavor to make sports more accessible to the youth of India.”
On Northeast’s contribution to sports in India, Ambani said, “Northeast occupies a special place in the heart of every Indian sports-fan. It is the home to some of the most recognised international athletes India has produced.”
She said in the Indian Super League Football 2018-19 season, 55 players from the Northeast showed so much talent in Northeast and the passion and enthusiasm for football here is something so heart-warming and so wonderful to see.
“Northeast is a priority for Reliance Foundation to tap the vast talent pool here. Our endeavour is to give North East its due as the region has nurtured and cultivated a sporting culture like no other parts of India. We look forward to partnering with all stakeholders from different sports and individuals to make India a truly multi-sport nation,” Ambani said.
RFYS conducts school and college competition in football and athletics across 60 cities in India. In 2017, four teams from Shillong reached the RFYS National Championship with Umthili Secondary School being crowned the winners.
Meanwhile John Abraham said that the Meghalaya Chief Minister has promised him to help his football club get land in Shillong to start the club’s academy.
“I spoke to chief minister Conrad Sangma and he is going to help me look out for land so that I can start my academy for NEUFC here as well so I am excited about it so he’s going to do anything for me before the 2022 National Games,” John said.
He said that the idea would be to train children – boys and girls – educate them, boarding, housing, lodging and everything so it’s a serious business,” John said.
“The idea to have an academy is to open it up all over but we have got one where they are starting in Guwahati, now Shillong and we want to do something in Imphal, Aizawl and so on and so forth and look everywhere else to all seven sisters and one brother,” he said.