India's Athletic Horizon: The Rising Popularity Of Sports Leagues In The Country
The ever-increasing popularity of various sports practiced in the country has broadened on many levels in the last few years. Read on to know more about the several prevalent sports leagues in India.
Talent comes in all shapes, sizes and forms. In a country as profusely populated as ours, we sure do have an unending number of prodigies, paving their way to greatness in various fields. While there are many intellectuals, creators, developers and geniuses in various fields, the reign that seeks more thrill than any other is that of sports. Being acclaimed as the land that gave birth to and nurtured multiple sportspersons, one can’t help but see that the majority of the list comes from the country’s arguably favourite sport, cricket.
Brought into the country by British colonisers, the game struck a chord with people of all ages and professional capacities, eventually giving birth to various local reiterations like the informal "gully cricket" that can be seen played in every street, in towns and cities all over the country to more formal leagues like the prestigious "Ranji Trophy" and the glammed up version called "Indian Premier League". While cricket and its fandom has been on a never-ending rise, the country has seen the inception and multifold growth of various other sports leagues that give the platform and popularity to various other players as well.
One such league is the "Pro Kabaddi League", initiated and incepted by Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd and Star India Pvt. Ltd. in 2014. Established with the intention of glorifying and re-innovating the age-old sport, the league consisted of teams representing various cities and states of the country. The league is backed by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), and supported by participating members of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) and the Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF).
To keep people on their toes all through the game, the franchise introduced some rather interesting game features, such as the do-or-die raid, the super tackle and the 30 second rule - which limited all raid attempts to half a minute - multiplying the nervous anticipation many a times. What started as a simple tournament soon garnered eyeballs all over the country, making each season bigger and better than the previous, thus resulting into the second most viewed game digitally, right after cricket!
With Pro-Kabaddi people witnessed a rather fulfilling journey of a sport so engrained in the roots of the country had reached a level where it was being broadcasted all over the world, and getting all the recognition it should.
Often recognized as the beautiful game, football has been a favoured sport across various terrains of India. It was only after the inception of "Indian Super League" and "I League" that helped the game garner wider acclaim and popularity in the nation. Brought to existence in 2014, ISL aims at revolutionizing the way in which football is perceived in the country, while also giving apt training and a platform for younger talent to flourish.
While the sport has had a good holding in the pool of player and enthusiasts in the past, the inception of leagues helped actualise the talent that is capable of achieving great lengths of success, in the smallest nooks and corners of the country. The added expertise of star players and coaches brought the sport glam factor to the league.
We’re all aware of one or more memories dealing with an innocent match of badminton in our childhoods. The game that has had a presence in pretty much every household of the country at some point, has had a comparatively small share in the popularity quotient when it comes to being played in a professional or competitive capacity. However, things changed when champions like Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand and recent stars of the game, Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu received several awards and laurels in the game for the country.
Initially known as Indian Badminton League, the franchise that gave a strong accord to badminton in the Indian sports fraternity came to be known as "Premier Badminton League" from 2014. The inception of the league not only gave a national ground for our players to compete on, but also took the game to a level beyond just enthusiasts. The tournament also involves and invites international players to participate, thus increasing the exposure that the budding players in our country need.
Moving on, 2020 saw a variety of things and subjects that generated traction on the Internet, but never in wildest dreams would someone think they chess would be one such subject. What started as a casual idea of streaming chess matches with friends and the content community online came to be one of the biggest revolutions ever seen in the world of chess, all thanks to Samay Raina, one of India’s up and coming comics.
Raina’s very own feat started with a few hundred viewers on his first stream, which soon became a phenomenon of its own, when the comedian invited the biggest names of the game; Vishwanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen and Vidit Gujarathi being some of the masters to play online, resulting in a humongous number of people watching these intense yet fun filled streams and encouraging the widespread reach the homegrown sport was seeing.
The stream sessions not only increased the popularity of the game, but also helped get rid of certain misconceptions regarding Chess being referred to as "too serious" or "boring". While this wasn’t a formal tournament or an official league, it did the work of one while also serving a good cause. A few of these streams managed to crowd-fund a big amount that went to help the underprivileged in these difficult times.
The examples of such uncharted events and the various developed leagues that came into existence in the previous decade, throw light on the increasing visibility of sports other than cricket in India, clearly signifying the broadening vision of the Indian audience, and the bigger and better scope for budding players across sporting/game genres.