Sheringham, Westwood to help realise ATK vision

While Teddy Sheringham, the former Manchester United forward, will manage the team, Ashley Westwood, who had a successful stint with the Bengaluru FC, will complement the fellow Briton with his knowledge about Indian footballers.

Atletico de Kolkata will be rechristened as ATK from the forthcoming season.   -  ISL SPORTZPICS

Nurturing a long-term vision, Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) on Saturday introduced its head coach Teddy Sheringham and technical director Ashley Westwood for a bigger and longer version of the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

While Sheringham, the former Manchester United forward, will manage the team, Westwood, who had a successful stint with the Bengaluru FC, will complement the fellow Briton with his knowledge about Indian footballers. Westwood would also implement ATK’s plans for grassroots and youth development.

Fifty-one-year-old Sheringham, who had a decorated career at Manchester United and has the experience of coaching a fourth-tier English club Stevenage FC for a season, said, “I was told about the football and crazy fans (here). Hope we can excite them. It is a lovely opportunity for me and Ashley to combine as a team that will hopefully progress and win the ISL.”

Sheringham admitted that he would be under pressure while handling a two two-time ISL winner. “Our philosophy is to find a winning team. Obviously, playing attractive and positive football is important. I’ll have to learn quickly about the Indian league.”

Focus on grassroots

Westwood said ATK’s long-term vision impressed him. “If he (ATK principal owner Sanjiv Goenka) was talking about a quick fix solution and a one-year successful period, then probably I would not have been interested. It was the long term vision and focus on grassroots and youth development that attracted me.”

About his change in role from Bengaluru FC to ATK, Westwood said, “BFC is a different team now. Will see how they shape up. It will be interesting to come up against them. It is blank a canvas with a new ISL and a new format.”

Goenka was optimistic about ATK’s future. “We have with us a competent technical team. Teddy and Ashley bring experience, success and strategy along with vision. I hope we are able to live up to the expectations of fans,” said Goenka.

Sanjiv Goenka on Saturday announced that starting this year his company would give a special scholarship of Rs. 5 lakh each to five Indian women athletes. “The deserving candidates will be selected by an eminent jury,” said Goenka.

He indicated that his group might back some women cricketers. “The Indian women’s cricket team (which reached the final of the World Cup) has shown what it is capable of. What they lack is training, facilities and resources,” said Goenka.

‘Friends’

Putting to rest the speculation about ATK’s association with Spanish club Atletico de Madrid, Goenka said, “Atletico de Madrid will not be part of ATK. We have had a good relationship and we will continue to be friends.”

Goenka said the Madrid club had “not invested a penny” in ATK, which is co-owned by three others, and would sell its 25 per cent share in the Kolkata-based side to him.

Asked whether ATK would still be known as Atletico de Kolkata, Goenka said, “The name of the team is the name of the team. We are ATK. The full form is Atletico de Kolkata, but it's also 'Amar Tomar Kolkata'.”

Interestingly, the team did not use its full name in any of its press communications. On ATK’s possible clash of interests with city-based iconic I-League clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, Goenka said, “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are clubs with great legacies. We have grown up watching, idolising them. We don't compete with anyone. They are dadas, we are bachchas.”

  Dugout videos