American football is a battle for space, as much as it is a quest for touchdowns. As the EFLI works to bring the game to India, the organisers of the Elite Football League are involved in a similar journey for space, in the minds and hearts of Indian sports fans.
Football in this form is a sport of conflict and heavy contact – two characteristics that the EFLI believe will appeal to the younger generation of fans. If the success of the WWE and UFC are any indication, they may have got that calculation fairly right.
But introducing a sport in market without any cultural influence is a tall order. It is perhaps the reason why, EFLI has opened up several fronts in their quest for interest and loyalty.
Even as the bosses of the league are busy assembling teams from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the 2015 edition of the league, there is plenty of other things that are being driven to take the sport into the people.
Several promotions have already been run around colleges and corporate houses to create awareness and generate interest. Catching them young seems to be the credo that is driving EFLI to try and establish itself in the Indian market.
By conducting games at various Universities, EFLI is creating a catchment of talent that can be farmed for many years to come. Engaging corporates, it is expected, will bring in not only audience numbers but perhaps commercial support and the financial support needed to keep the momentum going.
It is expected that the EFLI will launch a competitive league later this year featuring 16 teams from different cities in India, spanning across the different regions.
Meanwhile, a corporate football championship is planned in Pune during July. The competition is expected to feature 32 teams in two groups with the top eight qualifying for the quarterfinals. The final in July will crown the first ever corporate football champions.
As you may have read on these pages earlier, a university competition was successfully completed in Patiala earlier this year. As the EFLI continues its baby steps into the hungry minds of sports fans in India, this model of engagement holds promise and offers excitement about the journey ahead.
The EFLI was founded in mid-2011 and publicly announced on August 5, 2011. The aim of the league is to introduce American football to the Indian market and its large consumer base.