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‘Government should make playing hockey mandatory at schools’

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Mohit Burman

State Governments need to put in resources, build stadiums and pitches. Just having a league will not make much difference. MOHIT BURMAN, CO-OWNER,KINGS XI PUNJAB





Mohit Burman, who co-owns Kings XI Punjab and is also a franchisee owner at the Hockey India League and Indian Badminton League, says a lot of other sports apart from cricket need to be given a boost. He shares his experience on investing in sports with Business Line.

Do you think leagues such as badminton and hockey can help develop these sports in the country?

I believe that in India, barring cricket, there are a lot of other sports that need to be developed. For instance, hockey is the national sport, but is not played in many schools. They do not even know the names of international players of this sport. The Government should make it mandatory (to play it in school). For a sport to be developed, youngsters need to be committed to it. If you leave it to private hands, it will take a long time.

So, the State Governments need to put in resources, build stadiums and pitches. Just having a league, which runs for two-three weeks a year, will not make much difference.

How has your experience been investing in Hockey India League and Indian Badminton League?

Any league that can attract international players and get them to come in and endorse it by playing in the league has an opportunity to do well. Badminton is still considered to be a niche sport, and a league of this magnitude can take the game to the next level.

It has come at the right time, as its popularity because of the Indian players’ international performances has grown.

As far as the Hockey India League is concerned, the organisation of the first season was good, but it is unfortunate that there is little demand for hockey as it has gone just too under the radar. It’s not that it’s not fast paced or a fun sport. People have lost interest. The league has potential but hockey needs education. For any sports league to be successful, the organisers also need to do their homework. If they don’t, making money on investments takes even longer.

Do you think investing in these leagues has been a viable business proposition so far?

That is our ultimate goal. Of course, barring cricket, our investments in hockey and badminton are much lower. But having lower investments does not mean it will make it easy.

Most teams lost a lot of money in the first Hockey India League season. Barring cricket, it is very difficult to get sponsorships for any league or ramp up tickets sales to break even, especially in the current economic scenario. In the league format, teams can only start making money when the central revenue pool is higher than the franchisee fee.

Has Kings XI Punjab achieved break even?

I am not worried about IPL, as the tournament is hugely successful. I believe this year we have reached break even as the central revenues have gone up substantially with the re-negotiated deals with sponsors. But next year there is a re-auction of players, and if the salaries don’t go up drastically, we may start making profits from next year.

In the past, after the IPL season, teams have gone to play at the international level. Any such plans for Kings XI?

We are trying. We can only tie up with international governing bodies and play with their local teams.

We have had talks with Cricket Canada for hosting matches in Toronto. But such initiatives need the teams to take out time from their busy schedules and a lot goes behind in organising and logistics.

Kings XI Punjab is a strong team in North India and the idea is to maximise its reach. We want to start reaching out to NRIs and expats who love cricket and strengthen our brand equity.

meenkashi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 26, 2013

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