Hyderabad: Move over cricket, football, badminton and kabaddi. A new league is in the works.

If everything goes as planned (read sponsorships), the Archery Association of India will start its own league for archery, one of the oldest sports still practiced.

The sporting body expects the league to promote archery in the country. The league will help talented players and help identify hidden talents at the grassroots level and bring them to limelight, Anil Kamineni, secretary general of Archery Association of India, said. The association will work closely with World Archery Federation and the league will include top foreign archers, both men and women.

Discussions are at a preliminary stage and it will take some time for the league to see daylight, Tarlochan Singh, acting president of Archery Association of India, said over the phone.

The Archery Association of India is currently focusing its efforts on Rio Olympics in August. More groundwork for the league will only start once the association members are back from Brazil.

However, the league will not take off unless it finds sponsors, said Singh.

“Running a league is very expensive," he said. “Unless there are sponsors, unless it is fully funded, it will be difficult for any federation to conduct a league."

The archery federation hopes to tap corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds of profit-making companies in India to make its dream of starting a league reality.

But the going will not be easy as several sports such as hockey, badminton, kabaddi, football and basketball have entered league format sports and will compete for the same CSR funding pie. Cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL), is one of the country’s biggest and most-watched sporting event, drawing bulk of sponsorship worth hundreds of crores.

But archery is not your typical sport.

Because of its nature involving a small target at a distance, archery is not a typical spectator sport compared to cricket, kabaddi or hockey, which are crowd pullers and make it possible for spectators to see the game.

“Archery is not crowd-pulling," Singh said. Over the last two years, though, more people are attending archery events after the association began installing live screens at venues.

The league will showcase a new revolutionized face of archery which will push the sport to limelight, Kamineni said in a statement on Monday.

Archery first appeared in Olympic Games in 1900.

After an absence of 52 years from 1920, the traditional sport made an appearance in Olympics in 1972 and has been a permanent fixture of the global sporting event ever since. The most decorated archer in Olympic history is Hubert Van Innis of Belgium who competed in 1900 and 1920 and walked away with six gold and three silver medals, according to the website of the Olympics games.

India is the birthplace of archers such as Limba Ram and Dola Banerjee. In the recent past, it has also produced medal winners such as Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das, Abhishek Verma and Rajat Chauhan.

Lack of awareness and unavailability of suitable platforms has prevented archery from getting its due support and backing, said Kamineni. The league plans to uplift the standard of the sport in India by providing recognition to talented archers and the sport.

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