In September, the inaugural season of the Elite Football League of India (EFLI) will be ten years old. This implies that the EFLI’s mission to promote American Football in India would have been on for a decade by September.
How has American football fared from 2012 until now? Has it been a success? And what is the actual state of the EFLI today?
All these are important questions that will provide answers to explain the true situation of American football in India. India is a big sports nation. The love for sports is an integral part of India’s culture. Sports enjoy nationwide patronage among people in different regions and age groups.
In India, sports betting is also a big deal. It is typical to find an Indian sports bettor placing stakes on NFL week 7 odds. This makes India an invaluable target market for sports.
How it all started
Before the EFLI began to lay the premise for promoting American football in India, India’s sports potential and profile were attractive. The EFLI didn’t care if every corner of India was dominated by cricket.
The body was convinced that the success of rugby could serve as a foundation to also build American football. When the EFLI announced its orientation programs, more than 3000 people expressed interest, especially because they learnt that the EFLI was willing to pay more than the rugby payment structure.
Getting interested sportspersons was not a challenge for the EFLI. The gaping lack of education about American football among Indians was a challenge though. Several observers were skeptical about how the EFLI will become popular in India. American football was new to both players and viewers
The EFLI pushed on with eight teams in 2012. However, the Indian public could only see pre-recorded games in the EFLI’s inaugural season. Currently, the EFLI has 20 franchises signed to it in India, with two other franchises in Sri Lanka and one franchise in Pakistan.
Despite the numeric growth in the number of EFLI franchises, the EFLI’s inaugural league has been the only season in ten years. There has been only one winner, Pune Marathas. And frankly, the EFLI is currently in a state of comatose.
American football is not doing well in India at the moment. Even though many Indians now know more about American football, an active league would have impressed many more Indians within the last decade.
Getting American football back up in India is a tough challenge. No organization is well-positioned to lead the charge more than the NFL.