American Football league to make India debut
American Football will be making its debut in cricket-crazy India with Elite Football League of India (EFLI) season scheduled here in January next year.
Six teams from India and one each from Pakistan and Sri Lanka will vie for the top honours in American Football Indian League 2013, announced league investor and team owner of Hyderabad Skykings Venkatesh Movva here Monday.
As a prelude to the season, Hyderabad Skykings and Bangalore Warhawks will clash in an exhibition match here July 20.
EFLI's first season scheduled to be held in India last year was moved to Sri Lanka in the last minute due to visa problems for Pakistani team. The organisers hope that things would be smooth this time.
Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Kolkata besides Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be participating in the second season, which will be telecast live on Ten Sports network in India and 13 neighbouring countries.
EFLI, promoted by some American and Indian investors, owns all eight teams. Movva Sports purchased Hyderabad Skykings early this year.
Venkatesh, who is also a part owner of Oklahoma Thunder in the US, said four months ago the Hyderabad Skykings was valued at $1 million. EFLI plans to auction the other teams next year. Investors from the US are also showing interest in buying teams.
Venkatesh, a well-known physician based in the US and CEO of Movva Sports Pvt Ltd, said all the players of Hyderabad were local players with different sports backgrounds. He hopes the game would catch up in India, attracting even American players in coming years.
"I am sure, people will fall in love with the game. It's physical, it's fast, there is plenty of scoring," said Venkatesh, who hopes Indian corporate will come forward to support the game.
Telugu film actor Sumanth signed up as the brand ambassador for Hyderabad Skykings. He also unveiled the official logo of the team. "This is an immensely popular game in the US. I believe Indians will find it exciting," he said.
Hyderabad team's head coach Praveen Kumar Reddy said they have 35 players coming from different athletic backgrounds. He said it would take some time for people to understand the game but once they know the rules, it would become popular.
EFLI was founded in 2011 to introduce American football in India. The investors include both American and Indian business and entertainment executives as well as several American sports figures.