The seventh season of the Indian Super League began in Goa on Friday as Kerala Blasters took on ATK Mohun Bagan and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) chairperson Nita Ambani says it has taken a lot of courage, determination and planning to bring back football amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ISL is the first major sports tournament to be held in India since the pandemic.

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“I am proud to announce that ISL will become the first sporting event of such large scale to be organised in our home country, India. We are overjoyed to bring the League back into your homes once again and broadcast it in over 80 countries outside of India,” she said.

Talking about the months of preparation that went into bringing the ISL live amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, “It has taken a lot of courage, determination, and planning to bring football back into our lives, in these pandemic times. I am sure that the next 4 months of ISL will fill our lives with joy, excitement, and positivity.”

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The ISL 2020-21 season promises to be the most exciting season with the addition of two historic clubs in Indian football history – Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

“The merger of ATK with Mohun Bagan, and the entry of our 11th club SC East Bengal, has reaffirmed our faith in the ecosystem we are creating for Indian football. An ecosystem that is already showing results internationally, and has given us our own Indian footballing heroes to look up to, from the likes of Sandesh Jinghan, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal and the promising youngsters like Sumit Rathi, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Narender Gahlot and many more,” she said.

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Ambani attributed the resumption of first sporting action in India after eight long months, to the spirit of sport. “Sports has always been a symbol of hope and inspiration – a way to connect, reflect, engage and show solidarity. I am thrilled that we are back with yet another exciting season of football for you.”