After kabaddi and volleyball, Screwvala eyes I-League team

“We would be happy to have an I-League team rather than an ISL franchise. This is because we are focused at the grassroots,” says Ronnie Screwvala, owner of U Mumba kabaddi and volleyball teams.

Ronnie Screwvala is keen to play a role in development of football at grassroots level in India.   -  Vivek Bendre

Ronnie Screwvala is a first generation entrepreneur, and it is the love for sports that made him enter a new arena four years ago.

He bought the U Mumba franchise in the Pro Kabaddi League in 2014. After tasting considerable success with the kabaddi team, winning the title in the second season and finishing runner-up in the third,  Screwvala extended his association with sports on Monday by buying the U Mumba Volley team in the Pro Volley League.

While Screwvala is excited about his new venture, he also revealed his plans to invest in football and E Sports in the near future.

But he has no plans to own a franchise in the Indian Super League (IPL); I-League is his preferred choice.

“For football, we are more keen on development at the grassroots level. I think in the next five-six years, we need to lift the player community and we are focused on that,” Screwvala told Sportstar on Monday.

U Mumba franchise won the Pro Kabaddi League title in 2015.   -  PTI

 

“We would be happy to have an I-League team rather than an ISL franchise. This is because we are focused at the grassroots,” he said.

While there has been a conversation with the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) about buying an I-League team, he insists nothing has been finalised.

On the decision to buy the volleyball team, Screwvala said: “To create a brand and a franchise, it is important to have a team sport. Sometimes, you have phenomenal sports, but there are only one or two people in it. You can’t own a franchise in that context. For us, the criteria of a team sport was important.”

“Secondly, a sport can’t get popular unless people play it. Volleyball, one has noticed, is a sport that requires very little infrastructure. It is a nice, physical sport. When it takes off, it gets attractive. All it needs is a bit of tightness,” Screwvala said.

Screwvala, co-founder of the UTV Group,  felt the Pro Volleyball League will succeed despite lack of celebrity quotient.

“The sport will take off itself. I am not saying that Pro Kabaddi League took off because of celebrities, it was because of the game. It was nice to have the celebrity factor. But this one will grow,” he said.