Goal: India

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Dec 29 2011, 08:46am hrs
Foreign football clubs are starting to see India as a great source of talent, as well as a huge market

I think Europe is finished. Itll be a good place for tourism but little else. Europe is a thing of the past, said Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, speaking about the need to find new destinations for his sport. He has long had his sights on India, culminating in the Indian Grand Prix earlier this year. Formula One isnt the only sport looking at India as an attractive destination. Several international football clubs have increasingly been looking at India as a source of talent and, more importantly, as a huge market waiting to be tapped. Manchester United, for example, has already opened two official restaurants in Indiafirst in Mumbai, and then in Delhiand is also planning to start a football school in the country soon. In this regard, it is actually a slow mover compared to clubs like Liverpool and Inter Milan, which have already made their presence felt in the country. Liverpool opened a football school in Delhi last year, and Inter Milan started a talent hunt. Such initiatives are extremely important to nurture the footballing talent in the country, which has long suffered from the lack of international exposure. For the clubs themselves, apart from a pool of talent, these schools will be launching boards for a full-fledged entry into the country, business-wiseteam merchandise, for example, is already a big and growing market in India.

Overall, sports in India have been growing at quite a clip, with a PwC report saying that India will generate $2 billion from sports by 2015, growing at 5%, which will be higher than worldwide growth for that period. Cricket is already leading this charge, but it seems that football will also be a significant driver in the years to come.