Now, Athletics Takes Cue from Cricket, to Launch a League - The New Indian Express

Now, Athletics Takes Cue from Cricket, to Launch a League

Published: 26th December 2013 01:49 AM

Last Updated: 26th December 2013 01:49 AM

Believe it or not. Athletics in India is also going cricket’s way. If the proposal tabled in the general executive meeting of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) on Saturday is any indicator, the country will see the birth of a new athletics league with international reach that would be drawn in the lines of the Indian Premier League. The sources within the AFI confirmed that the gala event will be christened as ‘Indian Athletics League’.

Though the AFI has been tight-lipped about the proposal, it has been learnt that the new event will have international athletes associated with it. The big success of Indian Badminton League and the Hockey India League had prompted the AFI to stir from it’s slumber and go for the rejig, which they view can be a panacea for reviving the esteem of athletics in the country. A couple of corporate giants have expressed their interest to run the league and several rounds of talks were held in this regard with the top athletic body and the corporate honchos, a top official in the AFI revealed.

Reliable sources told TNIE that the AFI is expecting to hold the league somewhere in April or August, 2014. Plans are also on to scrap the Federation Cup athletics and convert the Indian Grand Pix events as legs of the proposed league so that the fixtures wouldn’t clash.

When pressed by TNIE, AFI executive director AK Kesri acknowledged that such a proposal had indeed came up in the executive meeting and a detailed elaboration was held on the topic. “Yes we had a discussion on that in our meeting. Holding such a big event is not an easy task and it require months long off-site preparations. The topic first came up for discussion in December 2012 and in this last meeting we have decided to go ahead with the proposal,” he said. When asked about the financial part of the proposal he declined to comment further.

 Under the league a pool of athletes-that include domestic as well as foreign stars- will be created and brought under hammer. Franchises would be allotted to Bangalore, Kochi, Allahabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and couple of other cities. The League will be held in various legs and different cities would host the event.

Though the news of such a league has been kept under wraps by the AFI, the athletic fraternity has openly come in support of the event. They feel that such a high-profile event glittered with entertainment and publicity will help to promote athletics.

“The good aspect that I see in the proposal is that it offers lot of money and exposure for the young athletes. If there comes a situation where good earnings can be made from athletics then it will grow by it’s own,” commented sprint queen PT Usha.

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