“Single greatest sports growth economy story”


Stakeholders on the global football stage asserted their positive outlook towards India’s sharp rise as a sporting market during the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India in Bengaluru on Wednesday, November 29.

Nic Coward, the former General Secretary of the Premier League and CEO of UK Athletics, is among the global football experts participating in this revolutionary summit in India.

The summit aims to provide a look into the current and future sporting industry landscape in India and emphasizes transformative factors that are taking India into a new era of sporting excellence and business innovation.

“This (India) is the single greatest sports growth economy story anywhere in the world and will be for a considerable period of time,” Mr. Nic Coward stated.

“I think one of the great advantages that (India) has is that a lot of this entrepreneurial spirit can go from an idea through to execution pretty quickly. ISL doing what they did in order to grow and to develop created a compelling entertainment product. As things have progressed, there can now be greater coming together of an entire ecosystem”, he added.

The RCB Innovation Lab, through initiatives such as the Leader’s Meet: India, is bringing together influential figures from the international sports arena and establishing a platform where significant discussions and the exchange of innovative ideas take center stage.

The Premier League has garnered a substantial fan following in India over the years, particularly among the emerging middle class. The average age of an adult Premier League fan in India is 34.5 years, with 39% falling within the 25-34 age bracket.

Will Brass, the Chief Commercial Officer of the English Premier League, cited Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as a key figure in expanding the popularity of the Premier League in India.

“Ranveer Singh has been really critical for us in understanding the market,” admitted Will Brass. “We have been working with him since 2017. He is an authentic fan of the game, an authentic fan of the league, and has delivered a great deal, growing the India-specific social media audiences that we have via the PLO India, social tags here.”

As per a YouGov survey conducted last year, India boasts a total of 160 million football enthusiasts, a number that is on the rise.

“You definitely need to start from the grassroots” – Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero provides valuable advice for growth of Indian football

Mr. Alessandro Del Piero (left) speaks at RCB Innovation Lab.
Mr. Alessandro Del Piero (left) speaks at RCB Innovation Lab.

Alessandro Del Piero, the 2006 FIFA World Cup champion from Italy, who enthralled Indian football fans during his tenure with Delhi Dynamos, also provided insights into how India can establish itself as a football powerhouse during the event.

“In order to become better, you definitely need to start from the grassroots. If you want to create something big and long-term with real value, you need to invest in facilities, infrastructure and the teams and, of course in coaches”, said Mr. Alessandro Del Piero

“Grassroots is the key, to everything because children learn so fast and much better than us. If you build the academies then you can teach them the right things because talent is everywhere, in India and in every country in the world,” the former Juventus striker added

The President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, who was also part of the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India on the first day spoke about the growth market of Indian football.

“India has opportunity business-wise because we have 1/6 population in this world and also the largest population. I have spoken with FIFA several times and the President of FIFA and myself, are on the same page that India has huge potential to develop,” stated Mr. Chaubey.

The RCB Innovation Lab Leaders Meet: India will conclude on Thursday, November 30 after being successfully hosted in Bengaluru.

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Edited by Maanas Upadhyay

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