It’s become as fashionable as owning a luxury car or taking a fancy vacation. The trend of owning a sports team, which started with the Indian Premier League (IPL), is fast becoming a rage in Bollywood. While involvement of actors — Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty — played a huge role in garnering soaring TRPs for the IPL, the fever now seems spreading to other sports like football and gully cricket.
On Wednesday, actress Shilpa Shetty paid a visit to the headquarters of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in Delhi, sparking off rumours that the actress, along with beau Raj Kundra, may be considering buying an Indian Football Club. For Shilpa, who’s also the co-owner of the Rajasthan IPL team, owning a sports team has always been an exciting prospect. “Seen many matches in my life but seeing your own team playing for the first time is a feeling that’s inexplicable,” she had blogged during the IPL.
Apart from Shilpa, actors Salman Khan and John Abraham add plenty of star power to football. In an interview to HT City, Salman Khan, who is also the brand ambassador for AIFF, had stated, “I may go ahead and buy a football team too, I’m doing it all only because I want to promote my charity Being Human, and getting into popular sports is a good way of doing that.” John Abraham, who calls himself an ambassador for football, also promotes the sport to ensure “the game gets its due”.
Gully cricket is another sport tinsel town has taken a fancy to, with actors, Rajpal Yadav and Divya Dutta owning Kanpur Gullies and Ludhiana Gullies respectively. For Yadav, it gives him a chance to scout for hidden talent. “You never know — these gullies (lanes) and mohallas may have the next Tendulkar or Sehwag. For me, it’s about shedding light on the tremendous talent these places have to offer,” he says. Actor Ritiesh Deshmukh has been signed by the organisers as the brand ambassador of the tournament. Actress Divya Dutta says, “It [Ludhiana Gullies] is my home team... trying to encourage new talent. And it’s all friends in this venture, like Ritiesh and Rajpal. It’s fun to do something new,” she says.