John wants to be India's ambassador for football

Nov 24, 2007 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Nov 24 (IANS) Bollywood actor John Abraham says biking and football are two things that he is passionate about and wants to promote soccer by being India's ambassador of the sport.

"I am really passionate about biking and football, or shall we call it soccer, as people love to identify with American football these days," claims the actor who is currently busy promoting his new movie "Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal".

John, who has never hidden his love for the game, wants something to be done about the sport.

"I've done my bikers' movie 'Dhoom'. Enough has been said and seen about my love for bikes. We now have enough young guys zooming around on bikes. But what about football? I want it to acquire the same popularity and legitimacy as bikes and cricket," said the hopeful actor.

John feels the only game in this country that is widely loved is cricket but that star power could do wonders for other forgotten games. "Shah Rukh Khan was the best thing that could ever happen to hockey (after 'Chak De! India'). I feel every game, including football, needs a star to promote it. And I'm ready to do everything within my means to make sure the game gets the same fame as cricket."

He, however, blames internal politics that does not let the sport grow. "Unfortunately, the bureaucracy and the politics of this country are not conducive to a healthy atmosphere for any kind of discussion on the health of the nation."

John, who has met Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, the information and broadcasting minister and president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), several times, is keen on becoming the ambassador of the game.

He said: "Yes, I've met him repeatedly and discussed about the future of football and how to push the game. He's a lovely man and he feels for the game. We'd like to take the game to another level.

"Along with the producers of my new football film, UTV, we've designed a ground-contact programme. I can play the game, I'm not faking it. If I can be convincing in promoting biking, why not football? I want the ball to become an epicentre of glamour. When youngsters see the football in my hand they should think it's cool."

John feels cricket is too formidable a competition for football.

"But if you want to know, I want to make football the new favourite game of the country. I had hoped to get every smoker and his wife to watch 'No Smoking' and to convert some into non-smokers. What's the point of being a celebrity if you can't influence minds in a positive way?"

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