The Churchill CEO also refuted the notion of a gender bias against women in the corporate world…

In the first part of Khel Now’s exclusive interview with Churchill Brothers’ CEO Valanka Alemao, she talked about the struggle they faced to get back into the I-League and the present season of the league. We bring you Part 2 of the exclusive interview where she reflects on the present and future of Indian football along with a range of other issues.
The picture of the proposed merger between the I-League and Indian Super League is yet to be clear as the officials of both All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the IMG-Reliance are trying hard to find the solution for the same.  When asked about how she thinks Goa will be represented in a unified league if the merger goes through and whether she is in favour of the merger between the I-League and ISL, she refused to comment on the same.

Churchill Brothers are on a giant-killing spree as they’ve defeated both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the I-league

“I cannot say anything on the merger. But right from the day one, I am saying that all four (Goan) clubs need to get united. I have always believed in the mantra united we stand, divided we fall. I am a Mahatma Gandhi follower and I truly believe in his saying “you got to be the change, you wish to see (in the world). Even if the merger happens, I would personally wish that all four (Goan clubs) get together and speak to the AIFF and come back as a one or two clubs,” Alemao said.

Part I of the interview: A lot has to be done in Indian football-Valanka Alemao

CBSC’s top boss also stated that though the Red Machines hope to ply their trade in the top flight in a revamped league structure, they will not seek corporate entry and would like to earn their place on merit.

“Like everybody, we also want to be in the top tier but purely on the basis of merit. We will love to be in the country’s top league but then it depends on the situation. We have always done everything towards the betterment of Indian football and we will continue to do so no matter what.”    

Anthony Wolfe celebrates after scoring against East Bengal FC in a recent I-league encounter

Alemao is happy with the state of grassroots development in the country and said, “Grassroots development in India is going in the right direction and we are also contributing to the same. We have a team in every age bracket, from U-16 to U-20,” she pointed out.

However, she is worried about the future of players who are now part of the grassroots development as recently in the past few years more than 10 clubs have shut shop.

“There are more than 300-odd players who are unemployed in Goa alone. The future of Indian football is at stake. We talk about U-14, U-16, U-18 and U-20 but when I go and talk to their parents they are unsafe about their kids’ future. Who can promise their future? Looking at this, no parent wants their kid to be a professional football player because they don’t see any future in football,” she said.

Alemao further added, “I am very sad that there is not even a single Goan player in the team (India U-17 World Cup team). We really have players of that caliber in Goa and due to some differences or something, our future stars are not getting opportunities at the national level. But I think we need to continue working on our grassroots development,” she asserted.

We always see Alemao with the rest of the family at all of Churchill’s home games and she certainly leads by example for the fans. When asked what Churchill Brothers SC means to her and the family, she laid out her emotions.

“For me, Churchill Brothers is a part of my life and part of my family. I have grown up with this club. My father is more fond of our club than me. We always discuss our club at dinners and it will continue. I feel proud to say that Churchill Brothers have won almost all the major trophies in the country,” she said in a voice full of glee.

Alemao is the only female CEO in the I-league and she feels proud of the same. “Being the only female CEO of a club in the country is great. It’s not about being male or female but it is all about the passion you have for the game. I am not here because I am Churchill Alemao’s daughter but because I have worked hard for it,” she stressed.

Valanka with her father and founder of Churchill Brothers SC, Churchill Alemao

However, she believes that there is no consideration of gender when it comes to doing something with passion and also feels that the world is becoming more gender equal at a corporate level.

“I also wouldn’t say that just keeping a reserved seat for a female is gender equality. Even my seat was not reserved for any female. I don’t see any difference between male and female, when you have that zeal and passion for doing something, sex or caste have nothing to do with it. Same at the corporate level,” Alemao explained.

Her father, Churchill Alemao is a passionate football fan and has been a key figure in Indian football for many years. He has no doubt had a big influence on hIS daughter’s career and she concurs.

“Absolutely, actually he has a big influence on my life also.  It is a fact that my father will never say never. He never gives up. What I have learned is only cowards quit. He has taught me that failure is a part of the process which leads you to success and shows you that only if you are doing mistakes then you are trying something,” she said.

“I wish for a better future for Indian football but I also want to say that there is a lot that has to be done in the Indian game. I wish it comes to the situation where it is a win-win for everybody,” Alemao concluded.