There has been a recent trend in sports where professional leagues and their affiliated organizations are focusing their attention towards youth. Even the largest and most successful leagues, like the NFL, has ad campaigns to get younger kids to follow the league and get fit at the same time (NFL Up!). In essence, leagues are trying to create a feeling of brand loyalty from a young age.
Those promoting basketball and American football to India are following this trend and doing exactly the same in India. Not only do they want to get kids’ attention, but also develop youth to be able to play the sports professionally later on.
With basketball and American football being force-fed to the youth of India, the game of cricket now has more competition than ever before. It cannot survive purely on tradition and history. Other sports are already taking attention away from the game. In the blink of an eye, it won’t be the country’s most popular sport anymore.
Specifically, the Elite Football League of India (EFLI) has rounded up nearly 40 universities in the country to work with the league to form something of a ‘EFLI University League’. According to EFLI’s Facebook, the first Indian conglomeration of universities include S.P.K.M., D.B.J.C., Dr.B.A.C., C.K.T., Dnyansadhana, K.J. Somaiya, Kirti, Patkar, and B.P.C.A. colleges.
“We are providing infrastructure and coaching facilities to the universities. We are also planning to promote the game by introducing it in high schools and colleges so that the young generation will get benefit from this,” said Dr. Venkatesh Movva, President of Operations for EFLI.
As stated in the Singh Bhamara article, IMG Academy out of Florida has made strides in their attempt to work with India in promoting basketball at the youth and collegiate level. The inaugural BFI-IMG Reliance National School and College League for Boys and Girls 2014 (basketball) will be held from April 30 to May 4 at Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, India.
There will be 16 school (lower level) boys’ and girls’ teams, and 16 from colleges/universities, all representing cities around the country, including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Indore, Kolkata and Bangalore.
“This tournament will provide new and promising talent from the grassroot level, which will develop and promote the sport which is the endeavour of the BFI-IMG-Reliance collaboration,” said Roopam Harish Sharma, CEO of the Basketball Federation of India.
Potentially most attractive of all, both basketball and American football leagues plan on paying salaries and awarding money to the winners. With the amount of money being invested, cricket has its work cut out for it if it hopes to survive this new wave of sports in India.