EFLI: American Football in India?

Although Brandon Chillar was released by GB back in July of 2011, I thought some of you may find this piece of some interest. Chillar became a key investor in bringing American football to India, in the new league- EFLI.

Huge market in India, no doubt about that. But can the sport grow in a country that has had no exposure to the game previously? We'll have to wait and see.

Check it out ... via Metta Chronicles

American football is coming to South Asia this year in November, with the launch of the Elite Football League of India (EFLI). Plans to start an American football league in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan were first publicly announced on August 5th, 2011.

Yes, you read that right. Football in India.

The cricket-crazy country is hardly a sports-backed nation, with its only ever Olympic gold medal coming from Abhinav Bindra in the 2008 Olympics. As ridiculous an idea as it may seem, there is reason behind the madness: the Indian government feels that “[it] needs TV product over there”, according to former NFL Headcoach Mike Ditka, also an investor for the league. Outside of Cricket, there are no real sports on TV, which is why the Indian government pounced on the idea when it was introduced by CEO Richard Whelan in mid-2011. “India is beyond doubt a great market for the sports and entertainment sectors,” Whelan said at a news conference. “A concept like EFLI presents a huge opportunity and the perfect platform for brands to get visibility and reach out to their potential customers.” Especially with a population of 1 billion, if American football catches on, viewership could surpass the US viewership by at least 4 times over.

Key People

CEO: Richard Whelan


  • Green Bay Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar
  • Former Head Coach Mike Ditka
  • Former Dallas Cowboys wide reciever Michael Irvin
  • Former NFL quarterback and ESPN sportscaster Ron Jaworski
  • Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner
  • Actor/Director Mark Wahlberg

League Structure:

The first season of the EFLI will go on until February 2013, only a couple months shorter than their counterpart teams in North America. Every game will be held in one stadium, custom-built for the sport in Pune. Although the Pune team (Pune Marathas) will technically hold the title of host team, this one stadium, the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, will be shared amongst the teams from three different countries.

Although team rosters have not been set, players have been being recruited from all over the three countries through ‘Orientation’-style training camps, where players are taught the rules of play and are vetted for their potential. In the initial announcement on August 5th, CEO Richard Whelan stated that just the orientations alone had attracted almost 4,000 players. After a rigorous selection process, the chosen players have been sent to training within their team’s region, as well as on outreach missions to different primary and secondary schools to teach Indian children the sport they are planning on introducing.

In addition to players, the orientation stage also vetted attendees to locate Indian coaches for the teams. Along with the players, each of these coaches has also been individually trained by veteran and current American players and coaches involved in football, allowing for better realization of the game on the part of the Indians.

Initially starting with eight teams, the league hopes to expand to ten, adding two more teams (and a new country) within the coming year. Additionally, in order to better represent the population and size of the region this league covers, future expansion is not only limited to the next year; the league, in fact, hopes to expand by eight teams the subsequent year and by four teams every succeeding season, in order to reach a total of 52 teams by 2022.

Current Teams:

Bangalore Warhawks

Mumbai Gladiators

Kandy Skykings (Formerly from Hyderabad)

Pune Marathas

Kolkatta Vipers

Delhi Defenders

Pakistan Wolfpack

Colombo Lions

After the success of the first Indian professional sports league, the Indian Premier League (cricket), EFLI hopes to be the second organized sports league in India with TV broadcasted games. After the go ahead from the Sports Authority of India, EFLI signed on the Ten Sports TV Network, which will broadcast its games live India and Sri Lanka, as well as in the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Pakistan. In addition, 15% of all revenue made from the endeavors will be diverted to funding for the Sports Ministry of India.

As we come closer to the start of the first season of American Football in India, we will keep you updated on team rosters, coaches, and rules. Look for more on the league in the coming months, with interviews and videos exclusively on Metta Chronicles.

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