Franky Barreto
Franky Barreto Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Former India football captain Franky Barreto has whole-heartedly welcomed the start of this weekend’s start of the German Bundesliga.

Kick-starting the competition will be Borussia Dortmund hosting Schalke, while Wolfsburg will travel for their tie against Augsburg, and Hoffenheim will host Hertha Berlin. RB Leipzig welcome Freiburg among the fixtures on Saturday.

Barreto, who is currently the Manager Student Services at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), is pleased with the return of competitive football, provided all precautions are put in place for a smooth and safe competition.

“Ultimately, the sporting world had to wait for Germany to lead the way. I am sure they have done their research and study before taking this huge step at a time when the entire world has sat back watching and waiting. I mean, if they have put all their measures in place, then we can always look forward to some good football action starting this weekend,” Barreto told Gulf News.

“Probably, countries across the world are also realising that this shutdown has been going on far too long. People need to have some sort of entertainment, and I think for us footballers, the return of Bundesliga will be a welcome addition,” he added.

Schalke players train on Thursday
Schalke players train on Thursday Image Credit: AFP

Playing in his key centre-back defensive role, Barreto has 17 caps for India. He made his debut and exit from top-class football from the famed Vasco Da Gama Sports Club.

Salgaocar SC legends urge fans to stay strong, stay fit and stay home

After starting off with Vasco SC in 1992, Barreto went on to play for a handful of top outfits in India, including Churchill Brothers, East Bengal and Salgaocar SC, where, among others, he had the company of another legend Bruno Countinho until his switch to Vasco SC in 2003.

Now in Dubai for nearly 20 years, Barreto’s first love is still with football.

Residing in Karama with his wife Venora and children Desiree and Damien, he regularly features in the annual Ramadan Inter-Village Goan Football normally held at the Iranian Sports Club while also playing with Dubai-based Friday Footballers and Monday Footballers. Barreto is also the official UAE representative for the Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC).

“For the moment, someone had to take the initiative on behalf of sports, and I am glad the Bundesliga is taking the first step. Many countries have so far been only debating measures and means on how to bring sports and other activities back,” Barreto said.

“One thing is for sure, and that is we’ve got to live with the virus. But we’ve also got to take necessary precautions that have been put up by the authorities for our safety.”

Last week, the 36 clubs of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 agreed a resumption of match operations starting from May 16 with all clubs observing local health protocols while returning to the field.

The Bundesliga’s chief executive, Christian Seifert has said that the league would return at all 36 stadiums in the country, with the remaining nine games on the schedule to be completed on June 27 and 28.