Tag Archives: Indian Super League

ISL

Football seeking a bigger share of India’s sporting limelight

India is known for being cricket mad, but with a population of 1.3 billion, and a growing affluent middle class, it has the potential to be one of football’s biggest markets.

That is why the teams that comprise the Indian Super League (ISL) are so important to the future of the world’s most popular sport in its second-most populous country.

What is the ISL?

Founded in October 2013, the ISL was originally known as the Hero Indian Super League as the Hero Motocorp company signed a three-year title sponsorship agreement. Originally featuring eight teams, it now has 10 professional franchises in nine different states, and their season runs for five months, from November to March.

Each squad in the ISL includes one foreign ‘marquee’ star, seven other overseas players, 14 domestic and four local players. Teams play each other home and away, with the top four then playing off across two legs for a spot in the final.

As the ISL is seeking to grow the profile of football in India, there is currently no promotion or relegation. But as in North American sports, it will allow expansion teams to join the league as and when the conditions are right.

Can it ever compete with cricket?

Founded in 2007, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the world’s richest and pre-eminent Twenty20 competition, and its success offers a template for other sports in India to follow.

With the Kabaddi Pro League already extremely successful, many in India feel there is room for more sports to grab their share of their limelight – and the massive revenues that can be amassed from broadcast rights, ticketing and merchandising.

Much as Indians love their cricket, there is a belief that it has (particularly in the T20 format) eclipsed other sports such as hockey, football,tennis and many others to an unhealthy degree.

India has plenty of talented young footballers, but currently lacks the infrastructure for them to develop their careers. This its what the ISL is seeking to address.

And can it compete with the English Premier League?

The ISL currently attracts average crowds of around 22,000 per game, but the league is still new, and many football fans in India already have allegiances to clubs in the English Premier League.

The EPL has been marketed very successfully around the globe, but particularly in countries like India which have strong ties with the UK.

So without a professional league of their own, many Indians who like football are part of the worldwide fanbases of clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Of course, the other issue is that the standard of play in the EPL is much higher than in the ISL, as the English top flight fixtures regularly televised in India attest.

But it’s still very early days for the ISL, and its cause is not helped by India’s lack of progress at international level.

The Indian national team have never qualified for a World Cup tournament, nor is its record in the AFC Asian Cup likely to excite fans, with just one appearance in the final – in 1964.

The future

Despite this, it would foolish to bet against football taking off, certainly at the domestic level, in India.

With its massive population and growing economy, if the ISL manages to divert just a fraction of the interest of Indian sports fans away cricket, it will surely achieve great things.

And the more established it becomes, with more teams added to the league, the more opportunities will be available to young kids who want to pursue a career in football.

The ISL’s cause is already being aided by plenty of celebrity involvement. Hindi film superstar Ranveer Singh helps to represent the EPL in India, adding to football’s cachet, and other actors such as Ranbir Kapoor own the football clubs like Mumbai city FC.

Given time, more teams, further investment and a growth in media coverage, football’s potential in India is enormous.

Seema Jaswal: from TV runner to Premier League presenter

Meet Seema Jaswal, a multi-talented British TV anchor and presenter. She is a representative for the Premier League post-match reviews, Fantasy Premier League shows and Premier League Fan Zone show on Sky Sports.

The sports industry has always been seen as a ‘man’s world’ and many women have had discouraging experiences.

But Seema has become one of the first Asian women presenters to represent the Premier League and reaches 750 million viewers globally. Her experience has been nothing but positive in every field.

Jaswal, who is extremely popular on social media, says her favourite hashtag is #lovemyjob, “because I genuinely do!”

No negativity

Her success in the industry is a huge inspiration to a lot of females. She truly believes that everyone should do what they love, despite any blocks that may come your way.

“I am fortunate to have been in the industry at a time when things have changed so much for women in sport. especially in the UK,” she says.

“I have never faced any negativity about being female and have always worked with professionals that appreciate the work I do based on merit.

Jaswal wanted to get a job in research or marketing after graduating from university. However, as she started applying for jobs she soon realised that her career needed to be both fulfilling and something she enjoyed.

She has always had a passion for tennis, and at one point she was determined to become a tennis coach. But she decided to keep that as a hobby and soon after she applied for a job at Sky Sports and started off her career as a runner.

Seema Jaswal

“Being a runner is an interesting job as the role varies from day to day. Occasionally you’re thrown into the deep end and asked to help out with shows, which opened my eyes to the possibility of presenting,” says Jaswal.

Her family have a Ugandan Asian background. Even today, girls with an Asian background can struggle to follow a path into the sports industry.

They are forced into careers which are more socially acceptable in their traditional society.

It is uncommon for a young Asian girl to be supported by her entire family, as Seema was, in pursuing a career in sports presenting.

Families look at the sports industry as very male dominated and panic when their daughters choose that path.

It is comforting for young girls to look up to role models like Seema Jaswal and aspire to be as successful.

Moving to India

After years of being a runner, Jaswal finally felt confident and ready to embrace any new opportunities that came her way.

She started off presenting CBBC’s Sports Round, a show that involved trying out lots of different sports on a weekly basis.

Jaswal was also the presenter on The Wright Stuff before relocating to India for 18 months to become the face of Indian football for Star Sports.

Soon after she moved to India she was offered an opportunity to work for the Premier League, which is when she decided to move back to London.

Seema Jaswal at the FIFA U-17 World Cup

The live events presenter was thrilled with an opportunity to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

It was her most recent and successful venture and it filled her with excitement, turning out to be one of her biggest achievements. It was great days for England as they went on to win the trophy.

“I really enjoyed seeing the tournament through from start to finish and it was an honour to host India’s first ever FIFA event with the likes of David Moyes, Stuart Pearce and Luis Garcia to name a few,” says Jaswal.

Role model

Many people seem to think women are treated worse than men and have no chance of growing within the sports industry. Seema, who has always been appreciated for her work based on merit is a prime example that the industry is very open towards everyone. The effort you put in is always rewarded in any field, irrespective of gender.

A lot of different countries treat women differently in the sporting world. However the UK has always been one of the more accepting and encouraging countries for women to pursue a career.

Jaswal covers two very different football leagues in The Premier League and the Indian Super League. The Premier league is an established league that is 26 years old with 20 teams competing in it and the ISL is a newly established league in its early stages of development.

The Premier League showcases some of the world’s greatest talents and the most exciting aspect in that any team can beat another on their day regardless of where they sit in the league table.

Jaswal has come very far in the industry. She has worked in many fields and she is destined for a big future within the industry. Being a female with an Asian background she is a huge role model to a lot of young girls.