Thursday, 22 November 2012

Birth of a Sport: American Football in India and Pakistan

A unbelievable story on the growth of the EFLI (Elite Football League of India), India's first American Football League.

 One guy even MADE his own field! That's dedication!

Video Taken from the kick starter website




July 25, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka: It is a blisteringly hot day at Sugathadasa Stadium as Amit "Happy" Lochab steps on the field for the first ever professional American Football game in South Asia; he has come a long way at this point.

The field where he learned to play this game was one built with his own two hands. Happy is the leader of his team, the Delhi Defenders, and when they didn't have a field to practice on, he gathered his villagers and teammates, borrowed a tractor, and spent day and night clearing the field, laying grass down, and painting lines on it. Of course, the field could never be complete without one final touch: stamping DEFENDERS across the end zone.

Happy grew up poor in Auchandi Village. Just 11 months ago he picked up a football for the first time. But now, Happy is moments away from making history.

THE LEAGUE

What if America’s most popular sport was introduced to the world’s second most populous nation?

Birth of a Sport will be a feature documentary chronicling the Elite Football League of India (EFLI), the first professional American football league in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Founded in late 2011, the EFLI was started to create new opportunities for athletes in the region. The first season began just about a year later and is being broadcast throughout South Asia on one of the leading sports networks, Ten Sports. The league consists of eight teams, five located in various cities across India, two in Sri Lanka, and one from Pakistan. There are some big names behind the league, including NFL Hall of Fame members Kurt Warner, Mike Ditka and Michael Irvin, as well as Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg.

Cricket rules in this region and nothing comes close. That means the one billion plus people who populate this vast land only consume one sport. What about other athletes? These other sportsmen have unquestionable skills. But let's face it, some people are more fit to tackle a running back than bowl to a batsman.


INDIA vs. PAKISTAN: THE RIVALRY

With 111 million television viewers, the 2012 Super Bowl was the most watched show in US history. By contrast, a 2011 India-Pakistan cricket match was estimated to attract an audience of over 500 million.

The history between India and Pakistan is long, documenting a relationship colored by infamous complexity. India and Pakistan were, at one time, a single country under British rule. In 1947 Britain dismantled its Indian Empire and partitioned the sub-continent, creating a fierce South Asian rivalry, which has lasted ever since. The roots of this animosity stem from religious difference and even further conflict over the states of Jammu and Kashmir. Recently, this conflict has escalated into a frightening nuclear arms race.

This rivalry isn't constrained to just geopolitical affairs. The competition between the national cricket teams of India and Pakistan is one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world. A standard India-Pakistan cricket match attracts hundreds of millions of viewers, and defeat is just plain unacceptable to fans of both teams.

The EFLI is hoping to bring these two countries together in peace through this vicious contact sport. Can players from these two countries, competing with the same goal of demolishing each other on the field, come together as brothers off of it? Birth of a Sport will chronicle this as it’s happening. 


THE PLAYERS

The true heart of this film rests in the personal stories of players and coaches. India is an extremely diverse place with a centuries old caste system; the players from this league come from all over, they speak one of hundreds of different languages and represent many of the thousands of different castes.

There are players coming from the slums, looking to bring a better life to their families. Then there are those from well-off backgrounds, looking to make a name for themselves in the world of sport. Some left decent jobs, others good schools, but all of these men are risking their livelihoods to become EFLI stars.



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