Sunday, March 05, 2006

Al Jazeera TV targets India's oldest football club

It name has become synonymous with Middle East battlefront reportage, so, when Al Jazeera TV sent a team of officials to the Kolkata maidans as part of a novel effort in documenting Indian football heritage, it came as a pleasant surprise for the football-crazy city. Particularly for Mohun Bagan club, which is in the Doha-based television channel’s sights.

In the first such instance in recent history of a TV channel coming over from West Asia to exhaustively document an Indian football club, a team of four Al Jazeera representatives went about their task, researching on the club’s history and filming in detail.

And if the Qatar television channel’s project, Indian Football Development, goes according to plan then Al Jazeera’s viewers will get to witness a riveting detailed show on India’s oldest football club. Moreover, it was learnt that apart from airing the program itself, Al Jazeera is even planning to sell the documentary to a number of television channels across the globe.

The green-and-maroons’ general secretary Anjan Mitra, who accompanied the Al Jazeera team throughout their three-four day stay in the city, gave Newsline a lowdown on how the Doha channel went about its task.

“It was a pleasant surprise to find a renowned TV channel coming here all the way from Qatar to do a documentary on our club. While they were here, they did a lot of filming at the club’s premises and many of its players from the past and the present,” Mitra told Newsline.

"Al Jazeera is documenting our club in particular, mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, the FIFA Task Force recognition comes as a huge thing. And then there was the recognition in 1998, when the Asian Football Confederation chose this club as the best. Once the club fell in the same bracket with world giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and River Plate, it naturally grew in significance,” he said.

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