Youngsters can select sport as career, says Tendulkar

A day after Mumbai ended a futile domestic season, former India captain Sachin Tendulkar stressed on the fact that T20 Mumbai League (TML) is the need of the hour for Mumbai cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar inaugurated the T20 Mumbai League in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  PTI

A day after Mumbai ended a futile domestic season, former India captain Sachin Tendulkar stressed on the fact that T20 Mumbai League (TML) is the need of the hour for Mumbai cricket. The Bharat Ratna also exuded confidence in the changing sports landscape in India, saying the sprawling leagues across disciplines has resulted in sport being a viable career option.

“I firmly believe that something like this (T20 League) was needed for Mumbai cricket. Mumbai cricket has always led Indian cricket and the numbers are the biggest proof. I feel really happy to be part of this league,” Tendulkar, the ambassador of the six-team franchise-based league, to be held at the Wankhede Stadium from March 21, said at a promotional event for the tournament on Thursday.

While it was supposed to be a press conference, the floor wasn’t thrown open for questions. During his interaction with the event host, Tendulkar explained how the league will help younger Mumbai players help rub shoulders with the senior pros.

“Mumbai having won Ranji Trophy for 41 years, you’ve got terrific history. I still remember as a kid, at Shivaji Park – Kamath Memorial club – Paddy sir, (Padmakar Shivalkar), would come and bowl to me. He was possibly thrice my age at that time but he would bowl to me,” Tendulkar said.

READ: Tendulkar inaugurates T20 Mumbai League

“Such things happen in Mumbai. It would be nice if youngsters are playing alongside some big names in Mumbai cricket, they get to learn and that is something that I am looking forward to.”

The iconic batsman then hoped the MTL will emerge as yet another avenue for budding sportspersons to take sport as career.

“I feel in today's day and age, youngsters can select any sport as their career and you can make livelihood out of it. When my parents encouraged me to play sport, this was in the 70s and early 80s, there were not many leagues. I would much rather say that these leagues, T20 and not just to talk about cricket here but generally various leagues that have started – football, kabaddi, badminton, table tennis – you name it and it's there today,” he said.

“So you can make a career out of playing sport. I remember there are so many names in Mumbai cricket who should have played for India but at that given moment, there wasn't a spot available for them. But they were really, really good and would have gone on to play for India. Similarly, so many club cricketers would have gone on to play Ranji but they couldn't do that. I think today by playing these leagues, even if you don't go and play Ranji Trophy, you can still look after your family.

“And that is the most important thing for any individual. If you can look after your family, make them feel financially secure and be the backbone of family is the greatest feeling anyone can get. That's why I feel this league is here to stay and it has opened up many doors for youngsters, not just cricketers but also coaching staff, support staff, be it physios, doctors, whoever. Any league, it's a package deal. A lot of things happen around that and that's why I am excited about it.”