Changing Winds: New Sports Shine through in India

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With cricket being synonymous with every Indian, we take a look at some other sports going for the big in this country.


The sport which is considered for the well elite is gaining immense popularity in India. Over the past few years, golf has been growing annually at around 25 percent. The country boasts of approximately 5,00,000 players, a number which continues to grow. Golf, which is usually associated with middle-aged and senior citizens, is gaining popularity among the youth of the country. With new golf courses popping up, the future for the game looks bright. Anirban Lehri, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jeev Singh Milkha are some famous golfers of India. The Hero Indian Open, one of the flagship open of India which is held at the Delhi Golf Club every year has started to attract crowds in thousands.


With emerging shuttlers such as Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta coming up, the Indian badminton paradigm has completely changed. In the recent years, we have had an Olympic bronze- medalist and a world number 2 from India. This growing potential of the sport has also caught the eye of corporate world which led to the inception of Indian Badminton League (IBL) in an inter-state competitive format similar to the Indian Premier league (IPL). The first edition was quite successful and the tournament gathered a cumulative viewership of about 21.7 million according to a Deloitte report. The tournament offered a winning prize of $1 million, the highest for a badminton tournament ever in the world.


The sport, known to many as the “national sport of India”, has seen some dark days in the past few decades. Inadequate investment in the sport led to India’s inability to adapt to the modern game which ultimately has caused this sport’s decline since the 1970s. However in the recent years, big companies have started to invest in the sport and channels have started to take initiatives to bring the sport to the masses. Hockey India League was a small but a significant step taken in this direction. This year, Star Sports planned to spend Rs.100 crore on advertising and promoting the event, which was four times the budget allocated for the year 2012. “We want to create a multi-sport culture in India. Cricket is already big and we want to grow other sports like hockey as well,” said Nitin Kukreja, head of sports business for Star India to a leading Indian daily. “To do that production and how it looks on the screen is very important.” This year, the tournament calculated a viewership of 41.4 million.


Of all the sports excluding cricket, the one which follows a huge fan-following in this nation is football. Since the broadcasting of the English Premier League (EPL) in India, the sport has grown exponentially over the years. The 90 minute play-time is perfect for our reducing attention span and the match times fit perfectly for the people.  All big clubs like Manchester united, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Liverpool have set up academies in India and see India as a potential hotspot for talent. An EPL-like tournament, Indian Super League is also set to kickoff this year. It is an initiative of one of the biggest companies of India, Reliance together with IMG and has team owners like Ranbir Kapoor, Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. The league has also roped in veteran players such as Andy Cole and Diego Forlan coming in as coaches. For the Indian football, these sure seem to be exciting times.

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