AFI planning an IPL-style event in Aug

National body keen to rope in international stars for league

Aimed at raising the profile of track and field sports in the country, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is mulling the launch of an ambitious franchised-based league, which will feature Olympic and world champions.

The AFI Executive Committee, in its recent meeting, discussed the possibility of starting a cash-rich competition to be named Indian Athletics League (IAL), with a sports management firm presenting a blueprint.

Though the finer details are yet to be finalised, the proposed IAL will be a franchised-based competition on the lines of Indian Premier League and Indian Badminton League.
 It will also have some similarities with the prestigious 14-leg Diamond League Series organised by the world governing body IAAF each year.

AFI Executive Committee took the decision to hold the proposed IAL in the first half of August if the sponsors and necessary funds are available. The sports management firm has been tasked to find the corporate sponsors. An AFI source said the budget for the proposed league would be pegged at around 100 crore and some of the big international stars, including Olympic and world champions, would be invited.

“It’s early stages now. We discussed the feasibility of the league in the Executive Committee meeting as we want to raise the profile of athletics in the country. We decided that if the necessary funds and the sponsors come, then we can hold the league in August,” the source said. “If our plans materialise and corporates are willing to come forward, then it will be a big ticket event which can be as big as any leagues around in the country and outside,” he added.

He also said there will be eight to 10 franchise sides based in different cities across the country and each team will have eight men and eight women, with top international stars in them. 

“We have to decide on the number of city-based franchise teams and the number of international stars. Each franchise teams (men and women) will have eight athletes.

 Either two or three of them will be international stars and the rest the Indians. There will be bidding for franchises and national and international athletes,” the source said.

The league will be a series of competitions in each city where the franchises are based, and each event will last three to four hours. “Each series in a particular city, say New Delhi or Mumbai or Chennai will last three to four hours. Each winner, second and third place finishers will get a prize money. We will decide on the amount of prize money later on,” he said.

He said the Indian Grand Prix events have been scrapped from this season’s calendar to make a window for  IAL.  AFI President Adille Sumariwala said: “We still have to decide on the format and other details. We want to start a league but it depends on the money available. We hope to get the funds and sponsors and then take a decision.”

Athletics calendar

Meanwhile AFI has fixed the National Inter-State athletics championships at Lucknow in June and the Federation Cup championships at Patiala in August as the selection trials for this year’s Commonwealth and Asian Games respectively. The inter-state event is to be hosted by Uttar Pradesh from June 18-22 ahead of the CWG in Glasgow. Federation Cup athletics is slated from August 16-19 prior to the Asian Games.

Agencies

Other events: National race walking(Kochi, Feb 8, 9); National Youth meet (Panaji, May 2-4); Open Nationals (Patna, Oct 10-13); Junior Nationals (Vijayawada (Nov 26-30); Junior Inter-Zonals (Ranchi, Nov 1-3); Junior Fed Cup (Chennai, May 9-11).

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