India, as we all know, has the second largest population on the planet, with more than one billion people. Which such a huge population, it's a wonder that they haven't had better luck finding potential sports icons. India's national team underperforms in most of the global sporting competition it takes part in. In cricket, which is one of India's most popular sports, India has been less then impressive, winning one World Cup in 1983. Even this win was a bit of a surprise to the cricket world, where India was considered a bottom tier team, but was a "Cinderella Story", beating the likes of number one ranked West Indies.
Aside from this successful World Cup venture, India has underperformed in its most popular sport until very recently, where they have played very well and are now ranked second to Australia, who has been an elite team for quite some time. The Olympics have also been a failed undertaking for the national team. Accord to the Wall Street Journal, since 1986, India has only won 20 medals, 11 of which came from field hockey. China has won 100 medals in the 2008 summer Olympics alone.
In India's defense, the national energy has been focused the academic more than the athletic side of things. India houses some of the world's most prestigious universities, giving birth to some of the best in important fields like medicine, computer programming, and economics. The culture is said to place a higher value on education then it does on sports. The Wall Street Journal has quoted Vijay Armritjar, a former Indian tennis champion, as saying, "People always ask why there aren't more great athletes coming out of India. My answer is, you don't see a lot of great software engineers coming out of Spain."
The deal is that that India, though it has a fast growing economy, has little in the way of refining professional athletes. Considering how big India is, there are bound to be top performing athletes just waiting to be discovered. Here is where two billionaires, IMG owner Ted Fostemann and Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani, come in. They are looking to tap into the vast potential by developing pro basketball and soccer leagues in the country. They hope to develop athletic talent by building sports academies throughout India. They also looked to coming up with agreements with existing soccer and basketball federations to help them develop these leagues. IMG has also helped the rise of the Indian cricket team by creating a better, more competitive cricket league within India, which has found better young talent to help boost the performance.
The sports venture looks to start giving scholarships to the most promising athletes to help them train in their academies; also, 20 to 30 lucky athletes will get a trip to Florida in the fall to train in IMG's US facility with US coaches. If all goes according to plan, they will be able to find players who will quickly rise and will be able to represent them on their track to fame, which could become quite profitable for IMG and its Indian affiliates.