Cricket is a religion in India and people love, admire the Indian cricketers and follow them religiously. Two of the cricket leagues in India like the Indian Premier League, which has been going for 7 years; and Champions League T-20 tournament for six years have made the game popular. They have attracted the people to come in the stadium with the family to watch the matches. They have also groomed domestic young players, with some going on to represent the country.
Following this suit, many non-cricketing sporting leagues have started in India in the past 2-3 years that will help to change the mindset of the people and popularity of the game concerned.
The Indian Super League (ISL) which has started from 12th October 2014 and will go on for two months has seen some excellent response so far. There are 8 teams participating in it from different cities of the country i.e. Kolkata, Chennai, North East United, Mumbai, Kerala Blasters, Delhi, Pune and Goa.
This league has seen some of the popular Bollywood stars and cricketers owning the teams, coming to encourage their teams, watch and support. This also has helped in pulling the crowd support for all the matches so far. The ISL will help the Indian players to know about the game and learn the finer skills of the game from top international players. Over next 2-3 year I hope India can build formidable national team. The television coverage is good as the commentary is broadcast in Hindi and English, generating interest and revenue for the franchise which would boost he support to the game and budding players.
Now on to Kabbadi, where the Pro Kabaddi League began on the 26th July 2014 and ended on 31st August 2014 was based on format of Indian Premier League. The tournament had 8 teams participating. The winner of that tournament was Jaipur Pink Panther. Some of the players who participated in the tournament went to win the Asian Games 2014 gold medal in Incheon. The Indian team was given a tough fight by Iran team who lost to defending champions India by 2 points in the final suggests Indian men cannot take titles for granted in the coming tournaments. This is the 7th time that India has won gold medal in Asian games. The crowd support in the stadiums was great as people thronged the stadium to watch game and enjoy.
The Bollywood stars like Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar etc. came and supported their teams. In Hockey, the Hockey India league had 2 seasons in 2013 and 2014.
In the first edition of the tournament 5 teams competed, with the Ranchi Rhinos emerging as winners. In the second season, Delhi Wave riders were the winners of the tournament out of six teams that participated. There are players from England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Argentina participated in these tournaments, in the process improving the Indian team. The evidence this is seen in India winning 3 matches against one in the recently concluded series against Australia as of 9 November 2014.
The current players from India like Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh have improved their game and firmed up their position in Indian senior team. The standard of stamina of Indian players is improving. The media coverage of this event was great with Television and online coverage.
Indian Badminton League is another example of how Indian sports have changed. It began in 2013. The second edition was supposed to take place in 2014 but was postponed to 2015. The people in venues came and supported their team. Players from Malaysia, Thailand, Spain, and Germany came to participate in the tournament.
Each team had mix of international and domestic players. This gave an opportunity of international exposure of some upcoming players. There was coverage of IBL. The young spectators who came to watch the games could see their stars like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Lee Chong Wei.
Hyderabad Hotshots led by Saina Nehwal won the tournament. Again, this championship will boost the morale of the budding Badminton players in the country.
The International Premier League which is to start on the 28th November and will be played in four cities in Manila, Dubai, Delhi and Singapore. The teams are Manila Mavericks, UAE Royals, Indian Aces and Singapore Slammers.
Top International players from USA, Brazil, Australia, France, Serbia, Croatia, Denmark, Canada, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom are participating in the tournament. The Indian players participating in the tournament are Saina Mirza and Rohan Bopanna.
Though it may not be an opportunity for many young Indian Tennis potentials, may boost the interest to play better at domestic level to get an opportunity in the next series. The Lawn Tennis Association of India, need to take a clue and start the Indian version of the same to boost tennis in India. I am sure that these sporting leagues will help the Indian sports in a big way. This will go a long way of other sports to start their leagues in India.
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