Conducting sports league matches in India is becoming a lucrative business, a media attraction due to live coverage on TV channels, attention to sports and unearthing hidden talent apart from providing known players make enough money for a happy living and entertainment to a common man. Youngsters used to hesitate taking sports as a profession for the economic uncertainty and most parents were not encouraging for the fact that they did not see their wards’ future in it. With various leagues taking place in India since 2008 the situation is changing. What started with Cricket by now has spread to cover Badminton, Hockey, Kabaddi and football league too have been a boost for the youngsters in India.
Cricket is a religion in India. The Indian Premier league (IPL) which began in 2008 has been a success and has gained immense popularity. It has completed 8 seasons. IPL has helped the Indian cricket a lot. The players like Yusuf Pathan, Parthiv Patel, Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane staged a comeback to national team through IPL. In recent times, Sanju Samson, Manan Vohra, Akshar Patel, Karn Shrama are new additions to the national team.
Playing with and mentored by stalwarts like Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag, VVS Laxman,and some international players has helped these players to improve their game and head towards national selection. The IPL has helped the batsman to improvise and innovate shots and ability to chase down huge scores easily. It has created a change in mindset among the players. They are becoming fearless and bold. The fielding standard of the Indian players has improved a lot. The involvement of celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Preity Zinta, Shilpa Shetty and businessmen like Ambanis, Mallyas, Reddys, Nes Wadia, who not only invested money but also are spending time with the players during games.
Mandatory inclusion of international players (4 out of 11 in each playing side) from New Zealand, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka and England is responsible for improving the challenge and quality of the matches, thereby providing international exposure at home for the upcoming domestic players. Experienced Coaches play a big role in mentoring various componeents of the game like bating, fielding, pace bowling etc. Due to IPL, the game has reached small places like Ranchi, Dharmshala, and Raipur. The first 14 matches of IPL 8 had 145 million viewership.
Kabaddi is another poplar rural sport, well frankly, more of historic than popular (where Indian team wins gold medal at the Asian games in men’s and women’s section) but did not attract many urban players. The Pro Kabaddi league, which is currently on, season 1 became a success. This sport requires a lot of strength and stamina. All the teams played exceptionally well, but at the end Pink Panthers of Jaipur won the title. The telecast of the games came live on TV which helped people to enjoy and know more about the game. In the second season of Pro Kabaddi League there has been an increase of 45 per cent in TV viewership as compared to last year. The unprecedented growth makes Star Sports Pro Kabaddi the only domestic Indian sports league to witness a strong rise in viewership as compared to last season. In the first season of Pro Kabaddi League there were 435 million viewers out of which 22% were women. The appeal of the league has cut across demographics with the core, urban youth audiences following the matches’ game while women and children contribute 50 per cent of viewerships. The League has been popular across the digital front with hotstar being the broadcaster of the league with a massive interest from metros and cities. Star Sports Pro Kabaddi has grown from strength to strength as season 1 was rediscovering about the game while season 2 has seen people coming to the stadiums and watching the matches, seeing their heroes.
Hockey India league began in 2013 has also seen some success. The infrastructure has been top class. There have been 3 seasons so far. There have been players from England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and Holland. The Indian players have learnt from the foreign players. The penalty corner conversion of Indian players has improved. Current players from India like Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh have improved their game and got a nod in the national squad.
The standard of stamina of the Indian players is also improving. Moreover, the exposure they are getting is proving beneficial. With 7 teams in the race, there is a scope to get new talents identified soon. There is a need to expand the HIL to sub-states also to benefit the most.
Indian badminton league is another example of how any Indian sports can be improved . It began in 2013. The people came in large number to support their teams. Players from Malaysia, Thailand, Germany, Denmark Spain came to participate in the tournament. Each team had to have a mix of international and domestic players. This gave an opportunity to some of the upcoming players, which otherwise could have remained as a dream come true. There was TV coverage of the IBL. Indian players performed very well. The young spectators who came to watch the games could see their stars like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu , Lee Chong Wei, Kashyap etc . The competition was tough and the Indian male shuttlers learned how to play with top experienced players.
The Indian Super League which began on the 12th October 2014 was a success. Eight teams competing with each team having a select number of international players will boost the image of the tournament and expose the Indian lads for competitive football game. In England, Germany, Spain football has become popular and this attempt to make the game popular in India is a challenge. This type of effort will help the Indian football players to develop their game and learn the finer aspects of the game so that we can see an Indian team playing in FIFA world cup sooner rather than later. The teams were purchased by celebrates like Sourav Ganguly, Ranbir Kapoor and Sachin Tendulkar
Soon in India there will be Wrestling league in India to be started in November which will help the Indian wrestlers to prepare well for Rio Olympics.
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