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Home -> Blogs -> Free Kick -> Sports Management and Exposure for Football in India

Sports Management and Exposure for Football in India

May 13, 2015 09:49

Since 2014, India saw a massive boom in leagues for most sports; Be it the ISL, CTL, HIL, IBL, IPTL and even a league for Kabaddi! All of these were well appreciated by the Indian masses since international players like Del Piero, Anelka, Ljungberg, Pires, Elano, Materazzi, Nesta and many played shoulder to shoulder with our indian players. Something that none of our 15 year old selves would've thought would be possible. For Tennis we can argue that since we've had players competing at world class level, Tennis could be termed as a fairly easier job to accomplish but nevertheless, the IPTL also gained a lot of popularity. The league that has been doing it all even before all of these leagues were planned- The IPL. Some may argue that the IPL is commercializing the game to a very unhealthy level but even then it has helped so many Indian players to get exposure to the game internationally in their own backyard. Even players who don't make it to the first team have found solace in playing for clubs in the IPL.

This same scenario can be applied to the ISL. Only except for the fact that the international team doesn't do so well, We have the I-League and now the ISL where our talents can shine. So many players have gained from playing in the ISL, Romeo Fernandes is now playing in Brazil. Subrata Paul landed the role of Mumbai FC no. 1, Sandesh Jhingan is being scouted by international clubs. Also, now the I-league matches are seeing spectators flooding in to see Indian footballers play and are also seeing a marked improvement in their average spectators count per match. Players like Ashutosh Mehta of Mumbai FC have benefitted highly from playing under international coaches in the ISL at Pune City FC. FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has dubbed the world’s second most populous country as the sleeping giant of football. The ISL conquered the Indian media, players became well-known and exposure was an added benefit – quite a good beginning! "Let’s football" was a famous slogan which perched every Indian lip.

Similar to the ISL, Indian tennis fared well on the exposure front – The Champions Tennis League (CTL) followed by the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). The CTL, a 10-day tennis exhibition tournament which was led by Vijay Amritraj was also played on the style of Indian Premier League. The CTL was played across ten Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Chandigarh. It was telecast on Sony Six as well. The CTL was a great show for spectators as well as the players as Cyprus superstar Marcos Baghdatis beat World No 16 Kevin Anderson. Pune Marathas emerged victorious 27-23 over Delhi Dreams sealing the CTL a big hit.

One sport that gained tremendously from the 'league-concept' was Kabaddi. Yes, Kabaddi. The beloved yet forgotten sport of India enjoyed a brilliant image makeover and all of a sudden playing Kabaddi is considered 'cool'. With the combined efforts of players and business tycoons as well as stars investing in kabaddi, the sport received much hype and benefit. With endorsements, packaging, marketing, advertising – all in equal share the sport succeeded in getting a star image in contrast to the rural image that it has had.

Badminton. Yes we have the best women's shuttler in the world- Saina Nehwal. But as all other sports in the country, yes Badminton too is an underground sport. the Indian Badminton League (IBL) was sure to make waves on Indian soil. The IBL is the richest badminton league in the world with a brand value of US $1 million. The League began in 2013 with six franchises with Indian cities – Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune Hyderabad and Lucknow. The IBL fared fairly well on the popularity front but could have done way better. The culprit being that badminton has always been a shadow of Tennis in India and has always had to gulp down its ego even when Badminton has fared better on the international front than we have in Tennis.

India’s national sport; For those of you who do not know, we're talking about Hockey here. Yes Hockey, Not Cricket is the national sport of our Country. Dhanraj Pillai, ring a bell?

Indian Hockey has been recently showcasing their best performances on field regaining the lost glory of the sport. The Sardar Singh-led Indian team has improved tremendously. 2014 has been termed as a re-birth of Indian hockey as the men’s team bagged gold in the Asian Games, qualifying for the Rio Olympics. They also won silver in the Commonwealth Games. The hockey league in India helped the team gain exposure along with inspiration of captaincy from Sardar Singh.The Hockey India League (HIL) saw its inaugural season last year. The HIL witnesses 34 matches that were played in 28 days.

It is a fresh change that Indian Hockey is finally regaining its lost reign.

As the number of leagues kept increasing in India, the level of the respective sports increased, providing more publicity and opportunities to players. The leagues have surely brought a change towards the outlook of Indian sports. Along with the discovery of fresh and young talents, the leagues have motivated the players to do better and better. Finally, the hard work of our sportsmen is raking in monetary wealth, which they truly deserve. With growing leagues, each year will bring more benefits and recognition to Indian sports. With support from fans, business tycoons, sports federations, coaches and players, the dream of making Indian sports global is finally shaping up. These sports leagues have provided sports like kabaddi, football, tennis, badminton and hockey a push and it might help in transforming Indian sports but the organizers, investors, management need to maintain it that way and think of new and innovative ways to make it more beneficial for the best results.

With India set to host the 2017 FIFA under-17 World Cup, I believe we have the perfect springboard to nurture the next generation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Over the next twelve years we need to invest in world class infrastructure, scout and train the top young footballing talent (8-14 year olds) to ensure we have a team ready to compete at the biggest footballing event.

The 2002 World Cup, in which the United States unexpectedly made the quarterfinals, coincided with a resurgence in American soccer and MLS. MLS Cup 2002 drew 61,316 spectators to Gillette Stadium, the largest attendance in an MLS Cup finals. MLS limited teams to three substitutions per game in 2003, and adopted International Football Association Board (IFAB) rules in 2005.

MLS underwent a transition in the years leading up to the 2006 World Cup. After marketing itself on the talents of American players, the league lost some of its homegrown stars to prominent European leagues. For example, Tim Howard was transferred to Manchester United for $4 million in one of the most lucrative contract deals in league history. Many more American players did make an impact in MLS. In 2005, Jason Kreis became the first player to score 100 career MLS goals.

It was also in this era that MLS expanded for the first time since 1998. Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA began play in 2005, with Chivas USA becoming the second club in Los Angeles.By 2006 the San Jose Earthquakes owners, players and a few coaches moved to Texas to become the expansion Houston Dynamo, after failing to build a stadium in San Jose. The Dynamo became an expansion team, leaving their history behind for a new San Jose ownership group that formed in 2007.

Then came the biggest alteration to the MLS. David Beckham, Childhood icon for millions. Thus with Beckham, the initiation of veteran players joining the league had begun. Soon after Stars like Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, David Villa, Jermaine Defoe, Kaka, Frank Lampard followed suit. All this in turn boosted the popularity of the sport through the years and American players have been able to play in Europe at the top level and also with hefty pay-checks.

Another way of increasing exposure at a very young age are Football Schools and youth camps (Manchester United Soccer Schools) Where kids can go and get exposed to the training, Tactics and aesthetics of the game from a very professional point of view and further increase their chances to play outside India. Spotou, a sports Tourism company has already taken up such activities since the last 3-4 years. The more our indian players are conditioned at the international level, the better the game will become.

Money, Management, Exposure and investment – all need to move a step ahead every year to make the journey fruitful. With the success of several leagues recently, the question raised by many is – Will these leagues inspire young blood in our country to take up these sports and make our country reach the top? Yes, why not! We must not forget Japan’s J league which is the best example of transformation on a global stage. Japan reached every World Cup thereafter which provided better opportunities to their players and also helped them bag better contracts and teams all over the world. Nakamura is a product of the J-League first and then Celtic.

Lets have our Nakamuras and Modrics and Hazards Or better put, Romeo Fernandes, Sandhu, Chhettri, Jhingan, Subrata Paul? Shall we?

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