Sunday, September 23, 2012

To tap into college talent, plans afoot for varsity sports leagues

Hoping to tap into sporting talent among college students like the US, the government is set to announce national-level university cricket and hockey leagues. Sponsorship has already been lined up for the 20/20 format cricket league and the International Hockey Federation-aligned hockey league that may be launched as early as February 2013, sources said.

At the recent Olympics, 450 members of the American contingent were university students. Hoping to make a similar impact, the Human Resource Development Ministry is planning a respectable prize money and public exposure for the leagues.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) that already holds the annual inter-university Rohinton Baria cricket tournament will partner with NDTV for the leagues. A three-day event, the Rohinton Baria tournament has thrown up a fair share of well-known cricketers such as Dilip Sardesai, Chetan Chauhan and Sandeep Patil.

Attempts are also on at the BCCI level to revive the Vizzy Trophy, the annual inter-zonal university tournament, that produced cricketers such as Kapil Dev. While the BCCI is said to have been consulted by the AIU, the plan is to organise the cricket league outside its fold.

The 2012 Olympics triggered deliberations on need to encourage varsity-level contribution to national and international sports. NDTV then came to the HRD Ministry with an offer to sponsor an inter-university cricket event, which was later expanded to hockey.

“We are planning the new university sporting leagues as big events that will not only generate interest in sports across Indian universities but also give a platform to talented youngsters,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told The Sunday Express.

The planned format includes north, south, east and west zones contesting against each other in cricket as well as hockey. The top two from each of the zones will play in the national leagues.

AIU traces its history back to 1925 when then Viceroy of India, Lord Reading, took the initiative to bring all universities on a common platform. It covers traditional universities, open universities, professional universities, institutes of national importance and deemed-to-be universities.

Source: The Indian Express, September 23, 2012

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