When Lalit Modi had announced on the eve of opening ceremony of the IPL in the third season that IPL would indeed try to help other sporting events as well, the evidence also corroborated from trying to resurrect Indian Hockey, a sense for future things to come was indicated. It materialized in a jiffy, when IMG Worldwide Inc. entered into a tie-up with Reliance Industries Limited to set up a professional sports firm, whose objective would to discover and train young athletes, indeed the eureka moment for Indian sports per se seems to have been initiated.
Reliance Industries Limited is a behemoth which has presence in quite diverse forms all over the country, and could help in tapping talent from as mofussil towns as possible, through this initiative, and could pave the path for evolving sports as a career for the youth of the country. With IMG as a strategic partner, it would not be much of a problem for Reliance Industries.
The ethos of the tie-up is illustrative from its vision statement that seeks to uncork the sporting potential of the country, by initiating steps to create world class infrastructure and coaching facilities in the country. IMG is a company that operates out of Florida and has been instrumental in searching talents in the arena of golf, tennis and other sports.
IPL indeed needs to be complemented for the efforts that it is taking to popularize cricket world over, as in its wake, the major sporting establishments, sensing the commercial potential of getting involved with sports per se, are showing keen interest to set up sports verticals of different kinds in the country.
Those who scoff at cricket for hijacking the agenda of sports in country should not smile, as it is owing to the wide popularity of cricket that India is evincing interest from world sports majors, apart from the interest that Indian corporate houses are showing into events other than cricket. The commercial success that IPL has evolved into is the trigger that is bringing biggies in the arena of sports from all over the world into India.
With Reliance being first off the blocks in taking such initiative, it would be interesting to find out how the other corporate houses of the country react to this initiative. One thing is for sure sports as a discipline would not be the same again in India.
By: Suman Rai