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XLRI game for rural soccer

XLRI is set to take another untrodden path to reach out to the underprivileged.

The cradle plans to launch a sports marketing activity from the 2014 session. As part of the venture, students will organise a village football tournament on the outskirts of Jamshedpur and promote it through branding initiatives.

Marketing Association of XLRI and student society Sportscomm have joined hands to make the project successful. While students involved in the activity will learn to apply branding concepts at the grassroots level, the tourney will help popularise the game among villagers. The matches will be played out between the villages with fans cheering for respective teams.

Sources said the activity was to begin last year but was postponed as the faculty wanted it to be based on practical lessons instead of theory books.

“From designing to managing to marketing, every aspect of the tourney will be handled by students,” said Sanjeev Varshney, a marketing faculty of XLRI.

With help from the sports department of Tata Steel, XLRI has identified 16 teams from hamlets within 50km vicinity of the steel city. Densely populated villages with nearby fields were the first choices.

“We were looking for a sport that was already played in Jharkhand. Rural boys pursue football extensively, playing without shoes on rough turf. This league can go ahead and become a profitable venture. Our students will take care of the marketing part and create a craze for the game,” said Varshney.

The faculty member added that with proper branding, the teams might get sponsorships. “A tentative target is to enable a player earn Rs 2000 a match. At that rate, they can make Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000 in one league,” he added.

Senior sports manager of Tata Steel Charles Borromeo lauded the move. “Jharkhand has a lot of potential in football, archery and athletics. With XLRI taking interest in village football, the sport will gain popularity,” he said.