If I tell you that you have unlimited budget and you can buy whoever you want. Which player would you choose for your team? So yesterday i was with Mohamed Ali, that it’s the Cinderella of the Indian League and today I’m with the founder, with the CEO actually, no you are not the founder… with the President of Goa Football Club, Akshay Tandon! Thank you for having me. Thank you very much! Akshay, how old are you? I’m 33 years old Can we say that you are one of the youngest owner of a team in the world? I don’t know about that… I tell you.. I checked, you are one of the youngest I mean there are a couple of owners and co-owners even in the ISL (Indian Super League) that are quite young but being the president and running a football club like generally the age in India is typically quite old or older Meanwhile we are watching his team training all the players are there and I think they are training a little bit harder because They know you are here watching! Anyways.. how does it feel to be a young owner of a professional football team? Feels kind of… what I tell people is that it’s very exciting and very terrifying at the same time. it’s like two sides of the same coin, like being in a constant state of like… it’s a very emotionally charged job yeah.. because, no matter how much time goes and how many games you watch at the end of it… whether you win or lose in a match is gonna impact the next five days of your life.. your private life also? Yeah, as your mood changes, like how you’re feeling other people are messaging you on your phone and telling you congratulations and great job things are going so well, top of the table, winning.. Or like: the goalkeeper should not have made that mistake and then this happened.. and maybe next time you’ll do better so..from the fans, the press, the media, the friends, the family, everyone kind of rides that emotional wave of winning and losing… but I’m hoping that slowly things will start to stabilize Yeah, yeah Right now you are one of the pioneers of the Indian football because it’s something that’s evolving in the last years.. it’s a new movement and you are one of the first owner of a football team. Yeah, football has been in India for a very long time But with the ISL starting about six years ago There’s definitely been like a new sort of wave of energy, excitement, money, brands, optimism around football the country’s ranking has gone from 176 to 99 or 101 so things are improving and things are looking good. Three years ago I used to say that we were like Ground Zero of football… today I can say, with everything that’s changed We’re probably now at the first floor. It’s no longer like zero In terms of global football as a context. So how many years do you think you need to reach an international level? I think the first challenge is to reach or to be competitive at the Asian level and you know, we are starting to do well in Asian competitions The national team is doing okay You know, Bengaluru FC Which is another club which won the league last year, did pretty well in the Asian level in the last couple of years so it’ll take another maybe three to five years for us to perhaps that making more inroads in the Asian level and maybe another you know anywhere between 8 to 12 years for us to You know start producing players that people around the world might start considering As a way to access Indian markets and stuff. So yeah Like it’s a marathon, you know.. You tease.. like it’s not a race and you have to be ready to suffer all those years because right now you’re doing a long term job It’s a long term bet yeah, you know, I mean.. like the more you suffer, as you say.. the more you learned or more opportunity is there to learn like the more pain you have in a particular situation and The more conflict that is there with the existing systems existing structures. It also means that there’s more opportunity right? Unfortunately, that will also mean that we’ll all have white hair a lot faster then… Yeah, because actually you are preparing the road to the one that will come after you, because now the road is very difficult, very dangerous to take.. but now in ten years all the others that will come, they are going to find a road already.. ready to be booked so it’s very courageous from you, very brave from you and from what I’ve read From what you would like your team to be, you are more of an offensive You know, offensive president. Let’s say you want an offensive game I think when we were looking at what kind of football we wanted to establish, what kind of culture we wanted to create and The conclusion that I reached, after trying to study what happens all over the world is that we have to be aggressive, we have to be aggressive and.. unapologetic! we have to kind of say that this is the kind of football we’re gonna play, we’re gonna play attacking football we want the national team to be playing attacking football. Now, they’ve actually started doing that in the last couple of years So it’s like it’s very easy for our players to start sort of adjusting to the national team as well You think you influenced them? You influenced the national team? I don’t think i’ve influenced the national team, I think we knew or we took a risk in saying that we feel like this is the direction in which sort of Football is heading and more and more countries and more and more people and clubs are starting to play a more possessive Like a possession based attacking style of football, you know and You know like the general thinking, when I came in was that Indian players are not good enough to start playing like that Yeah But they will never be good enough to start playing like that If they don’t play like that, and was a bit risky because we were seeing glimpses of like brilliant attack But we weren’t necessarily good in a defensive structure But now in three years that we have been playing like that You can see that Indian players are very comfortable playing like that. And you know what things are slowly developing and growing in that direction Very very interesting… you saw the trend before the other teams, so you follow the trend before the others I can’t take credit for seeing the trend before the others It was more about taking a, perhaps, slightly risky choice that others in Indian football have taken in the past as well, you know But I think the timing of us taking the decision that we haved, has been good we’re now known as the most entertaining team in the country. And that was the goal! Yeah, and that is why you are at the top of the charts. but you are let’s say offensive also in other ways, in other positive ways… because i’ve read that you have new plans You are a sort of a visionary president You want to create something new for your team, something that involved the sustainability for your team? Right So we are fortunate to be in a beautiful place like Goa.. Yeah it is um, you know, you got everything that you want from your lifestyle.. and right now for example in Delhi you have these record levels of pollution And I’m sure everyone over there was hoping that they were in a place like this and we’re fortunate enough to be in a place like this.. But as patrons of the Goa brand because we operate the Football Club, we felt like whatever we did had to have a sustainability angle in our sort of message to the world.. as FC Goa and as Goa In a small way for example now I’m trying to operate a waste-free stadium, right? So at all our games we have a way of not throwing anything out but making sure that everything is recycled But in the future we are now developing concepts and ideas for a football academy Hopefully a football village, which will be built on principles of sustainability and an example of how people can develop or how they should develop Goa in the future as well.. so it’s about integrating everything, from solar, to rainwater harvesting, to gray water management.. ..to our indoor farming and farm-to-table sort of kind of like restaurants or kitchens and Yeah, so it’s a pretty exciting time! Zero wasting! So you are trying to make all by yourselves, not wasting but creating? Right! From saying like that operating on a model that we’re developing called net positive living. So the Football Academy hopefully will be one example of that and the idea is you know, how do we make a development which is creating instead of consuming like.. You have a building today that takes in water, that takes in energy, that takes in resources and it throws out sewage and you know gray water and waste so how can we create if we are looking at large parcels of land, say for football academy.. Which is going to be spread over many acres How do we create a system for a beautiful place like Goa as an example, where rather than.. consuming we are creating… you know and we want FC Goa to be champions of those values and those virtues Like of sustainability because you that’s what Goa I feel like can represent for the whole country Great! I think that I never heard something like that and so I would be glad that you’ll do something like that and I’ve had the chance and the pleasure to interview you and i can say i interviewed that visionnaire that was Akshay! I have a question for you, which is the team that inspires you in in Europe, let’s say? Hmm I would say Sort of different things about different teams sort of inspires me. I am inspired by Athletic Bilbao because they have been committed to the principles of only sort of recruiting players from you know, their region, and like they have stuck to that model They managed to be great… and they managed to stay at a competitive level in the Liga throughout the entire history, that they’ve never been close to relegation as such You said AC Milan for consistency? Yeah, I mean like, you know You have examples of clubs obviously, which have a lot of access to resources and revenue but you know when you have a system where you have a new sort of voting membership program, I mean that to me is not necessarily a solution for consistency because players, because the management is perhaps at the risk of always changing every couple of years Then I’ve learned a lot from second division and third division clubs like in Spain and Portugal Because that’s the level at which we are playing We aren’t playing at the top level, right? So we are trying to emulate and learn what a Barcelona is doing Like is limited because We aren’t necessarily competing for the same audience or the same kind of players or any of that. So you think that Goa, that now is one of the best team in India, can compete in a second division in Europe? We’ll struggle but if there is a place to compete for us that is where I’d like to be, you know like second and third division between Like say the bottom of the second and maybe the top of the third is where we’d like to be competing in. Okay Yeah, that’s the level I feel where we are as a team as a consistently with our foreigners and ours Indians.. Right now.. Let’s talk about in five or ten years. Maybe is gonna change. Yeah let’s see.. Cool! And if I tell you the you have unlimited budget and you can buy whoever you want. Which player would you choose for your team? Hmm I’m sure that you thought about it at least once… no no.. never? Like you have all the budget you want and any player will say yes, so you can ask to anyone.. tough question The reason I don’t have an answer to that it’s because I feel like it’s the wrong thing to do. Okay. Okay. Nice Introducing a very expensive, very high-profile player will take the attention from the development, you know We don’t want to be pulling crowds because we have a star player, we wanna be pulling crowds because they know someone someone who didn’t have a chance to be a professional footballer four years ago and now all of a sudden is representing the country, you know.. Mohamed Ali, Mohamed Ali t-shirt! let’s say one.. I feel like players that are bigger than a club or bigger than a place Don’t have a place here right now because it will send the wrong message Okay, so I’ll rephrase the question, which is your favorite football player in the world? I think it’s definitely got to be Messi for the magic, you know definitely gonna be Messi for the magic! Okay, great. Great! Yeah, it can be wheter one or the other.. Now, you know that I’m traveling around the world for a project about happiness, right? I would like to ask you two questions about happiness What does make you happy in your job? And what does make you happy in your private life? Hmmm.. Like… say when.. In my work I would say when things play out the way that you kind of scripted.. Like say that people asks me right now, what are you excited about? What’s going on right now? And how the team is performing? It’s like I kind of have to lie Because I’m no longer planning this season. I’m planning the next season, the season after that and so when those seasons kind of play out the way that you are planning today.. You’re kind of just smiling to yourself… Because there’s only a few ones that you are sharing that sort of moment with and say… We planned this, we created this and now it’s happening, you know And that happens everyday at a small level for something or the other you know, which Then personally, I would say that When you’re with your family like, when I’m with my wife or when i’m with my family and You know, you are having those moments where you’re not the way of being like fools You know, we are not talking about work, we are not talking about anything serious. We’re not talking about anything money related It’s just about acting stupid on the beach, like with your dogs or something like that.. like simple moments, simple joys… Like when you really switch off the job? Yeah, I mean when you really switch off more like when you switch on to be like that child, that child within you.. you know? Yeah and you get to behave like that, only around people that you are closest to or your friends, your family and When you switch off from your work and you get into that zone to have fun.. Like make small jokes, get around, laugh for no reason… Things like that! Nice, nice.. Thank you very much Akshay I’m very glad that we met and I thank you very much as you allow me to meet all your players Yeah, cheers man! My pleasure! Because I think I’m beside a person that can shape this league and can change the future of this league So I’m very very glad to have met you! It’s nice for you to say it.. I think there’s a lot of us in India that believe that one day we will have a billion people following football, you know So I’m just one of those like maybe thousands of people that share that vision… Guys, remember FC Goa and remember Akshay because he’s gonna change the Indian football! Cheers! Thanks, man! Ciao Ciao!