Saturday, August 06, 2011

EFLI - News and Logos

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A new American style football league, slated to start playing with 8 teams in 2012, is coming to India. It's called the Elite Football League of India (EFLI). The 8 teams are in the cities: Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa, Pune, Kolkata, Delhi, and Punjab.

The league has been assembled by a group of investors including Mike Ditka, former coach of the Chicago Bears (boo!), former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, and Green Bay Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar (whoo-hoo!), who is Indian-American. They have backing of the Indian government and approval from  the Sports Authority of India

Ditka admits starting a successful league is a long-shot, but he says, “They need TV product over there. There are no sports on TV. And the government is behind it.” 

As reported in Tehelka's article Taking India to first base (hmmm... first base? Their sports writers appear to need a lesson or two in football terminology):
IF YOU HAVE been witness to the Indian cricket team’s laborious struggle towards athletic agility, here is a disquieting thought. We are now diversifying into football. Not football as we know Lionel Messi play it, but the American version — big muscled bodies retro - fitted in protective armour and helmet, clashing over an ovoid in a field marked at two ends by tall upright poles; rugby on steroids, kabaddi on crack.

The United Football League (UFL)—a professional American football league, second highest platform for the game after the famed National Football League (NFL) — is going where no one has gone before. To Bhubaneshwar, among seven other Indian cities, to kickstart the Elite Football League of India (EFLI) with players drawn from as far a field as kho-kho and kabaddi.

The development is surprising on several counts, not least of which is the fact that to most Indians the word ‘Super Bowl’ is more likely to invoke images of crockery as opposed to the most prestigious tournament in American football. A sporting phenomenon of such scale and import that the Super Bowl halftime, the period of rest between two halves of the game, occupies a hallowed space in American advertising.

UFL, however, is not the only one. Over the past two years, other American names, both equally out of place in India, are featuring on the national sports pages in the country: the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB). There is a new wind blowing across the Indian sports landscape and it smells of hot dog and apple pie.

They're currently training coaches and assembling rugby players to teach them American rules. There first season, which may be played entirely in a single stadium in Pune, will consist of 56 regular season games and 2 playoff games, played Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, with many of the games televised. 

While only starting with 8 teams they have ambitious expansion plans. By 2022 they would like to have a team in each Indian city of a million people or more, which would mean a league of 52 teams

To start out coaches will be offered salaries of $2500 per month, while players will get $500 per month. Man, does that sound like old-school American football or what? Count me in as a fan of the new league. 

Of course, being a new fan I have to pick a team. I could carefully examine their rosters and coaching staff to make an informed decision, or I could just go with the team that has the coolest logo. Their names seem to change from article to article, so I'm not too sure how accurate the above logos are. However, if they are accurate I'm going with the Goa Swarm. 

Finally, if they need one, in the spirit of international cooperation I volunteer to be their Cheerleader consultant.

Sources: Wikipedia, Time Newsfeed, Tehelka, EFLI website (the links there are not currently functional), Global Post

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Assnt Business Devp. Head, India