Wednesday evening was one of joy for Indian football enthusiasts in Delhi after the Sudeva FC were given a direct entry into the I-League for the upcoming season by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Not only does this mean Delhi gets their first ever I-League club, the development marks the return of top level football to Delhi after Delhi Dynamos shifted bases to Odisha at the start of the 2019-20 season.
Sudeva's entry into the I-League is a dream come true for co-owner Anuj Gupta who has been planning for this day ever since he started the club alongside his friend Vijay Hakari in 2014.
"It is a great moment for me, Sudeva FC and Delhi football as well. It is the best moment of my life," Anuj told Goal. "We have been planning this for quite a while now. The development is historic not just for us but also for Delhi football as a whole."
"Now, our focus will be on developing players and putting them into the I-League platform so that they can be ready for the national team in the future."
More importantly, Sudeva's entry into the I-League should be a welcome development for Indian players. Anuj has made no secret of his commitment to developing Indian players and has confirmed that the club will play their first ever I-League campaign with a completely Indian squad.
"It is a great moment not only for us but also for young talent who could not get opportunities despite having the ability. They can definitely approach me. Of course, we can only have 30 or so players in the team, so I will be very selective.
"We will be putting an all Indian contingent with a mix of youth and senior players."
Anuj feels that Sudeva's performances will not be affected by the lack of overseas players. He cites the example of Indian Arrows who despite fielding a team made of teenage Indian players, have some notable wins in their record. Anuj feels that a bit of experience would have helped the Arrows get even better results.
"I have a strong conviction that we will be able to perform much better than people expect from a side without foreign players. It could also be an eye opener for me but anyhow. If you add some experience to the Arrows side, they could have converted many close results."
Sudeva are also planning to expand their already impressive facilities with the addition of new grounds which Anuj feels will benefit Delhi football in the long run.
"Next year, our plan is to come up with a new facility with four to five grounds in Delhi and some of those grounds will be given to Football Delhi and AIFF to have their matches. It should help the state football scenario because there will be more grounds and more teams and players."