Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday threw his weight behind the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL), saying it was the way forward to unearth football talent in the cricket-mad country.
"There is a lot of sporting talent in the country, but no platform to showcase the talent. Perhaps ISL is the answer," Tendulkar said in Mumbai at the launch of the eight-city franchise-based tournament to be played in October-December.
Tendulkar, who retired last year as the leading run-getter in both Test and one-day cricket, is co-owner of the Kochi franchise in the new league that has been modelled on the lines of cricket's cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
While the 40-year-old's fame and fortune is due to his exploits on the cricket field, he said that the most important thing was for Indians to develop and nurture a love of sport.
"My vision for India is sport for all. It is not about being professional but staying healthy and fit," he said.
Meanwhile, Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero, 39, was set to play for Delhi Dynamos and also serve as a brand ambassador for the ISL, a source associated with the league told AFP.
Del Piero, who has been playing more recently in Australia, will be the biggest star in the league that will also feature former French international David Trezeguet and ex-England goalkeeper David James.
Eight city-based teams are due to take part in the tournament which runs from October 12 to December 20. Several of the franchises have tie-ups with European football giants such as La Liga champions Atletico Madrid who are the co-owners of Atletico Kolkata.