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I-League (2 nd Division): Marketing Sports Tourism in Kashmir

Monitor News Bureau

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Hi guys! It is football fever in the valley. While Premier division league has entered into the final round, top-notch I-league (2nd Division) preliminary round group A has started with the kick off on 20th of this month on the AstroTurf, when the local lads of Lone Star FC locked horns with Delhi Dynamos FC in the inaugural match. Lone Star FC is born tough! Lost it closely though. As I type this column, the final whistle on Real Kashmir FC Vs Pune City FC is already blown. The match has ended in a goalless draw (0-0).

League football is a hierarchy of leagues between consecutive levels of the hierarchy called pyramids. It is due to their tendency to split into an increasing number of regional divisions further down one descends, forming a pyramid. League systems of some sort are used in football in almost all countries across the globe. The movement up and down the pyramid happens through the process of promotion and relegation, in which teams from a lower league who finish atop the standings in their league can advance to the next level of the pyramid, while teams in higher leagues who finish last are expelled and move down the pyramid. In most association football pyramids, this process is automatic each year.

The English Football League (EFL), founded in 1888 as the Football League, is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top-level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the English Premier League (EPL)

 

Presently, the top five global league tournaments include EPL (English Premier League), La-Liga (Spain), Serie-A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany) and Ligue 1 (France).

In the Indian context, premier league tournaments include the I-league and the ISL (Indian Super League). I-league, officially known as Hero I-league, is presently contested by 10 clubs and it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the I-League 2nd Division as well as a system of direct-entry. The latest (2017-18) was the 11th edition of the I-league which was won by Minerva FC Punjab. Move down the Pyramid, I-League 2nd Division is the second-highest division in the Indian football league system after the I-League.

I-League 2nd Division was introduced for the 2008 season, having been previously known as the National Football League 2nd Division. The winners of the last edition of the tournament (2016-17) were NEROCA FC, a professional club based in Imphal, Manipur.

This I-league (2nd division) brings in eighteen teams to play high-quality football in the country. Eighteen teams comprising of seven ISL clubs’ reserve teams (Except ATK, Northeast United FC, Mumbai City FC) who will compete in the preliminary round are divided into three groups. The Preliminary round which kicked-off on March 16, 2018 will continue until May 15, 2018. Teams will play on a home and away basis within the group. The winners of each group plus the best second-placed team would qualify for the final round. However, if reserve teams of ISL clubs finish as winners or runners-up in any group, the position will be passed on to the next non-ISL team. Four teams will play at the central venue on a ‘single-leg’ league system which will run from May 21, 2018 to May 27, 2018 at the end which the winners would be promoted to the next tier of Indian Football i.e. I-League.

Here in the valley, we are all set to watch exciting football through I-league (2nd division) scheduled to be played between six teams in group A till 13th May, 2018. Group-A includes two professional clubs from the state including Real Kashmir FC (RKFC)  and Lone Star FC (LSFC), who will fight it out with outside state clubs including Hindustan FC, Delhi Dynamos FC (reserves), Delhi United FC, FC Pune City (reserves). Each team will play a total 10 matches including 5 home and 5 away matches, and the winner of the group will qualify for the final round.

According to Fahd Khan, LSFC Marketing & Publicity Manager, Lone Star FC has already done wonders in season 2014-15 when it emerged as the first runner up in the group stage. Moreover, in the season (2016-17), Lone Star FC striker Aakif Reshi emerged as the best goal scorer (Indian player) with aggregate 11 goals, only behind two foreign players.

Traditionally, the football season in the valley would start in April, but the introduction of I-league (2nd Division) complemented by the all-season astroturf of the J&K Sports Council has stretched the football season as a 12-month exercise, with the spectators witnessing high quality game throughout the year. It has also given local boys the much needed platform to compete with better teams, thereby enhancing the quality of football played by them.

As this leg of I-league (2nd division) would come to an end, there would be a lot to be happy about. A few hotels would have got business to do throughout the tournament, many outside players would have gone for site-seeing, shikara riding and of course, would have had wazwan, hareesa and nun chai (Chai Jaai hai na!), and bought dry fruits from Amin-Bin-Khaliq (ABK-the Dryfruit People).

I-league was not only about football – it was sports tourism man!

Tourism and sports each contribute a great deal to the economies of many countries globally. In present times, public policy makers and economists are busy reorienting the local economies to their core competence. And of course, tourism is our core competence.

From economic point of view, hosting of sports events like I-league here is a marriage of tourism and sports.  A combination of the two i.e. sport tourism has many economic benefits. Primarily, it creates economic growth through filled hotels, restaurants and retail establishments, helps in building new infrastructure facilities, provides youth training and spectator entertainment, creates exposure and enhances a positive image for the community, creates new product, a new tourism destination, maximizes facility use within the community, builds community relationships and strengthens corporate support. It also attracts high-yield visitors, especially repeaters meaning increased rate of tourism growth. Besides, marketing the capability of the community, it helps increase community support for sport and sport-events.

Although, hosting I-league over the last 3-4 years has been quite successful with the support of J&K Football Association and J&K Sports Council, yet to set a benchmark as a hosting state, there is ample scope for improvement. To mention, while AIFF guidelines require to have three showers in each dressing room, we are still managing with a single shower for two dressing rooms. Our astroturf is quite good, but the campus lacks a proper medical room, an ambulance etc. Under AIFF guidelines, we have to have 13-seater covered dug-outs but ours forcefully accommodates 11 – that too without a cover.

It is not only for the Government to pump in resources for development of the game of football, private sector participation would definitely boost it. If Reliance can sign a Rs. 700 crore deal for ISL, we have many business houses to spend lakhs, at least. After all, top-class club football is a profitable venture – for those who understand this business. Growing football craze across the country presents many opportunities to invest in football and ancillary business and sports tourism is waiting for its turn. One thing it needs is marketing – a balanced mix of 4Ps of Kotler. And events like I-league (2nd division) do it well!

 

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Dhoni ‘unavailable’ for West Indies tour, takes two-month break to serve his regiment

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New Delhi: The mystery surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his future has been solved for now. The former India skipper has decided to take a two-month break and serve his army regiment after a gruelling India Premier League season and the 2019 World Cup.

It is no secret that Dhoni had already made himself unavailable for the tour of West Indies, but he has now informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he is joining the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army.

Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that the former India skipper has informed the BCCI of his plans and that this was in no way to be considered a move towards retirement.

 

“He has had a long season where he played the IPL with a sore back and then also played in the World Cup with an injury and he felt that it was important to take a break and come back fresh. With the selectors set to meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the squad for the Windies series, he has informed the board that he will be serving his army regiment for the next two months. This has nothing to do with retirement,” the source said.

Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army. Earlier skipper Virat Kohli had made it clear that the team management hadn`t heard anything from Dhoni on his future. But the former skipper has now sent across the message to all concerned.

In fact, while rumours were doing the rounds that Dhoni would have called it quits after the World Cup, those close to him had made it clear that it was unlikely. With Dhoni now informing the board of the sabbatical, there is clearly more to come when it comes to Dhoni serving the national team.

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ICC’s suspension of Zimbabwe Board is a wake-up call for PCB

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Islamabad: THE suspension of the Zimbabwe Cricket Board by the ICC due to government’s interference is a wake-up call for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who need to exclude several clauses from its constitution which allow the federal government and the prime minister as its patron to intervene in the PCB affairs.

The PCB’s constitution was approved in 2014 during ex-chairman Najam Sethi’s tenure while earlier some amendments were also made by another former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf. Though the media at the time had raised concern over those clauses which allowed government’s interference in the PCB affairs, Zaka had dispelled such concerns and had claimed that the ICC had approved the constitution.

However, the recent decision of the ICC to suspend the Zimbabwe Cricket Board after the Zimbabwe government had dissolved their board should be an eye opener for the PCB as well as other boards who encourage such interference from the government.

 

In the PCB’s constitution, one of the major clauses (number 45) says: “The Federal Government may, if it deemed necessary and expedient, make amendment in this constitution by way of repeal, substitution, omission, modification or addition of any provision thereof.”

In yet another clause (3), the patron may, from time to time, give to the Board general policy directions and the Board shall implement the same.”Moreover, the patron, who has not been elected by any forum of the PCB but automatically gets this position for being the prime minister of the country, also has the power to remove the PCB chairman and also to dissolve the most supreme body of the PCB — the Board of Governors — under special circumstances mentioned in the PCB constitution.

Furthermore, two members of the Board of Governors are to be nominated by the patron, too, and traditionally, one of them is elected as the PCB chairman.

t may be mentioned here that the ICC in the past has suspended the memberships of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and Nepal, prior to the Zimbabwe suspension for the same reasons of government’s interferences. However, the ICC chose to look the other way when the Indian Supreme Court formed the famous Lodha Commission to look into the BCCI affairs and to investigate the charges of corruptions in the IPL edition held in 2013.Though then BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had verbally asked then ICC chief executive Dav Richardson to write a letter to BCCI, showing concern over government’s interference after the formation of the Lodha Commission, Richardson refrained from it and insisted that BCCI should first write a letter to the world cricket governing body apprising it of the situation and asking for action.

Shirke had alleged that ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, who was also president of BCCI in 2013, had submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, highlighting the threat of the ICC suspension. However, he is reluctant to take any action as ICC chairman at the moment.

The PCB, which is pondering further amendments in the existing constitution to incorporate some clauses to change the currentt domestic cricket set up, will be well advised to revisit the clauses that allow govt interference in order to avoid any threat of the ICC’s action in the future.

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Morgan troubled by WC win, says not ‘fair to have result like that’

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London: England captain Eoin Morgan admitted that he is troubled with the way the 2019 World Cup ended. England and New Zealand played out a match that was tied twice — first in regular play and then in the Super Over — and Morgan`s side won the title on the basis of their superior tally of boundaries in the match.

“I dont think its fair to have a result like that when theres very little between the sides," Morgan told The Times. "I dont think there was one moment that you could say: That actually cost the game there. It was quite balanced.”

In what has since been described as the greatest World Cup final ever and even the greatest ODI match ever played, the method of finding the winner has come under almost universal criticism and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was hailed for the way he handled the defeat. Morgan is normally known for his clear-headed approach and has been credited with leading a sea change in England`s attitude towards the white ball cricket but even he admitted that he is struggling to make sense of what happened in the final.

 

“Im black and white. Im normally going: I know. I was there, that happened. (But) I cant stick my finger on where the game was won and lost. Im not sure winning it makes it any easier. It would be more difficult to lose, of course,” he said.

“Theres no defining moment that youd say: Yes, we thoroughly deserved it. It`s just been crazy.”

The match ebbed and flowed and there were times when one side looked as likely to win the game as the other. Morgan said that he has been speaking to Williamson, with whom he has played on a number of occasions in the Indian Premier League, about the game.

“I spoke to Kane over the last couple of days on numerous occasions and none of us has come up with a rational explanation as to the various times we gave them the game and they gave it back to us. Like me, he can`t get his head around everything,” he said.

The 32-year-old, however, agreed that the final was probably the greatest ever cricket match. “By a long way. I cant think of a game thats come close. Madness. I should be cheery about it, shouldn`t I?” he said.

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