The Elite Football League of India (EFLI), which happens to be the first professional American Football league in the country is set to conduct its inaugural season in November this yearG Aparna Sai firstname.lastname@example.org
The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) happens to be the first men’s professional American Football league in India. Backed by the Sports Authority of India(SAI), the EFLI has nine teams from India alongside three foreign sides participating — a team each from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The league is set to hold its pre-season in Sri Lanka during the month of July while the inaugural season is set to kick start in November in India.
The game which is often confused with Rugby, is looking to have a foothold in the Indian sub-continent soon. Though many are still unaware about the existence of such a sport, the organisers are positive about the sport being accepted in the nation.
The Hyderabad team, who call themselves the Hyderabad Sky Kings are taking this competition very seriously. The squad of 45 practise every morning at the Sarojini Cricket and Tennis academy in the city. Bracing all the harsh weather conditions and the limited facilities, the players train under both foreign and Indian coaches.
Most of the players are not regular American Football sports persons; Many belong to different games like Soccer, Rugby, Hockey, Kabaddi, Basketball and Volleyball to name a few. But none of them are regular cricket players and there seems to be a reason behind it.
“We want aggression. Cricket is a much “softer” game and American Football needs players who are much more aggressive. We were mainly looking at players who had strength, speed and agility in abundance.” says Bill Phaturos, a coach from the United States of America. He not only coaches the Sky Kings but does the same for the other teams in the league.
A doctor by profession, Phaturos runs a program known as the Scottsdale Youth Football Firebird in the US. Shutting between countries, Phaturos says he has no complaints and is extremely glad with the way the players are taking a keen interest while training for the competition ahead.
“Though it is an extremely hard game to teach and learn, the situation is not so bad as the players are extremely hardworking, dedicated and passionate about the game,” he added.
Like many sports in India, this game too faces the problem of having lack of amenities. They do not have a proper place to practice. “We require a nice grass ground to practice but that is not available in the city and hence we have to make do with the existing facilities,” rues Praveen Kumar Reddy, head coach of the Sky Kings.
The Hyderabad side are currently geared up to clash with the Bangalore War Hawks in an inaugural match on June 2 at the Lal Bahdur Stadium, a match which is being waited for with batted breath.