Like many countries around the world, India is a major fan of fútbol (soccer) and like many countries around the world, American football isn’t really a thing. India’s top leagues of soccer have regularly trailed behind cricket in TV viewership, but last weekend viewers were introduced to India’s first-ever American football league with hopes that people will follow the “new” game.
The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) may be new to the country and its people, but it’s being backed by high-profile investors (like former NFL head coach Mike Ditka and actor Mark Wahlberg) to establish a new niche in South Asia’s growing sports sector. Bangalore, Pakistan and Mumbai are among the various cities making up the eight-team league.
The Pakistan Wolfpak went against the Bangalore Warhawks during the first televised game of the season. Because the majority of locals have never played the sport, the league sought out athletes in other sports (like rugby) to prepare people for positions like running back/linebacker/tight end/kicker.
Because of its amateur beginnings and not-so recognized name, the EFLI has opted to pre-tape the season all at once in a Sri Lankan stadium. Unlike the American sport model where live sport events are the money makers, India’s Ten Sports network, who is broadcasting the games, is hoping to see the return on investment come from television viewership.
How? By producing the pre-recorded footage into an easy to watch game for “the novice Indian audience.” Plays were shorten and edited to amplify the excitement of the game and to help people gain a greater understanding of the sport.
The games will be broadcast to 14 different countries in the region with predictions of reaching 170 million homes.
(Photo credit: EFLI)