15 July 2013
Hyderabad, July 15, 2013: The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) is back. The touchdown to the American Football Indian League 2013 begins in Hyderabad with a blazing exhibition match between Hyderabad Skykings and Bangalore Warhawks on 20th of July, 2013 at the Astro-Turf Hockey Stadium Begumpet. This was announced today by the League investor and team owner of Hyderabad Skykings Dr. Venkatesh of Movva Sports. 8 teams will take part in this season vying for the trophy.
Earlier this year the EFLI concluded an agreement with Movva Sports to purchase the Hyderabad Skykings, which will play its inaugural season starting this December. These games will be televised live on Ten Sports network in India and 13 neighboring countries that comprise a potential audience reach of 170 million homes. Though there are no other teams currently for sale, as all of them are owned by the league. However, the league plans to conduct an auction in the future.
Vijayawada born Venkatesh Movva who is currently based in the United States is an early investor in the league and also owns the Hyderabad team “Hyderabad Skykings”. Venkatesh has travelled to India many times and has been responsible for putting together the player health and safety protocol for the league.
Speaking about this all new sport and how it will gain popularity with sports like cricket, hockey and tennis catching most of the viewer and audience attention, Team Owner says. “I am sure people will fall in love with the game. It’s physical, it’s fast, there’s plenty of scoring. This is the most watched and loved sport in America, popularly known as the super bowl. We do not ask ourselves whether this sport will be liked because we already know that the sport is entertaining to watch. What we ask ourselves is how willing would the corporates be to support the rise of a new sport? Sponsors are the backbone to any sport and without them no sport would survive. So, when a very entertaining game like American Football is backed by equally great brands the game will reach larger audience.”
Speaking on the occasion brand ambassador of Hyderabad Skykings said, “I'm in love with the beautiful but brutal game of American football which is known for its deafening horns, cymbals and blockbuster explosions and the ever popular NFL theme tune. I am really excited to be part Hyderabad Skykings and I will be there to cheer the team when they step into the stadia this season and I am confident that our team will be the top team to watch out for this season.”
“The sport can be a little bit difficult to understand, but once people understand they will all love watching it. Our goal is to provide a fast paced, action packed entertaining sport to the city of Hyderabad. Also we are creating opportunities for local youth to excel in the sport and enjoy the benefits of being professional athletes. All these athletes, superstars of the future, will be taking the field on the 20th of July against Bangalore Warhawks. It will be an interesting fight especially since the Bangalore Warhawks has the MVP (Most Valuable Player) Roshan Lobo in their team. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Hyderabadis to get introduced to the game before the season.” Director of Marketing, Lakshmi Karthik said.
The league is keen to develop the interest in the sport in India. Various programs, flag football leagues and fan participation events are underway to create spectator interest and grow the sport of American football in the region. All the players in the league will be contracted and will be paid as they will play professionally here. India has a huge pool of talent.
Right now each team will have 34 athletes and they will be paid a monthly salary. The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) is the first men's professional American football league in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. When play begins in late 2013, there will be eight teams located in various cities across India. The EFLI is South Asia's first professional American football league, and its launch is backed by both the Government of India and the Sports Authority of India.
EFLI provides a business structure designed for franchises to thrive. The organizers believe in the financial potential of this league and also anticipate significant demand from individuals/corporations to own other city franchises.
Founding of the EFLI
The EFLI was founded in mid-2011 and publicly announced on August 5, 2011. The aim of the league is to introduce American football to the Indian market and its large consumer base. The organization's management team consists of both American and Indian business and entertainment executives as well as several American sports figures. American brand marketing consultant Sunday Zeller is noted as the main founder.
Prominent investors include former Green Bay Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar, Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Ditka, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and former NFL quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Kurt Warner. Both Ditka and Irvin are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Chillar is of Indian descent. Investors outside of the sports community include American actor and entertainment producer Mark Wahlberg.
The EFLI will not be the first attempt to establish a professional American football league outside of the USA. NFL Europe was established in 1991, although NFL Europe eventually folded. Officials from the NFL have also expressed the possibility of starting a franchise in the United Kingdom, citing the popularity of the NFL's periodic exhibition games in London. Additionally, American football leagues exist throughout Europe, South Korea, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, and many other countries. Cricket enjoys dominating popularity in the country, but the domestic Indian Premier League and the proposed EFLI seasons do not overlap; IPL matches generally begin in April, and EFLI games are slated to commence in November and end in February.