Bangalore Warhawks and American Football in India !!!
American football is a popular sport in the US and is considered as a mix version of football and rugby football. This game is a pure exhibition of power and strength that spectators like to see. Played between two teams of eleven, the rule of the game allows players to score points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Also known as football or gridiron football in the United States, the American Football is about running with the ball either to throw it to a teammates or carry by own in order to reach the target zone. Unlike football in India, the points scored in American Football is based on carrying, catching, throwing and kicking the ball in order to pass the opponent's goal post.
The year 2011 witnessed some development of this game in India. A few prominent entrepreneurs and entertainment executives from US and India formed an autonomous sporting body known as the Elite Football League of India (EFLI) with the main aim of bringing professional American Football from the USA to India. This league started in western Pune with the aim of consolidating its position in the whole of South Asia. The league is financed by some prominent figures like former Green Bay Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar, Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Ditka, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski. Both Ditka and Irvin are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Chillar is of Indian descent.
EFLI started its initial session with eight teams from leading Indian cities that would consist of rosters, management and coaching staff. No doubt, players and coaches will be from India only, but they will be trained by professional American players or coaches. The teams from India were: Bangalore Warhawks, Mumbai Gladiators, Pune Marathas, Kolkata vipers and Delhi Defenders. And 3 teams from outside India were: Kandy Skykings, Pakistan Wolfpaks and Colombo Lions.
Bangalore Warhawks is the first American Football team from Bangalore. They were quite impressive in the first edition as they just lost one group match, one match was abandoned and rest 5 matches were won from a total of 7 matches. But in the semifinals they were defeated by Delhi. There were many impressive performances from the Bangalore side and the most notable performance was of Roshan Lobo.
Roshan Lobo is the star running back for the Bangalore Warhawks. Roshan, much like other bangalore boys and was always fond of cricket and soccer. Lobo's interest in American football was quietly picking up after watching the Sandler comedies 'The Waterboy' and 'The Longest Yard', and after playing rugby in his youth, he was quickly able to adapt to the demands of his new pastime.Without any experience, to learn to play the position, he turned to the internet. He used to watch the best running backs and the best running plays on youtube. In the 2012 inaugural EFLI season, he won Most Outstanding Running Back, Most Valuable Player of India, and EFLI Most Valuable Player 2012.
On the field Lobo’s first season was a great success. He won few EFLI awards and even signed many autographs. That may not put him in the glamour class of Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar or on the playing level of Bo Jackson, but Lobo’s hoping that with enough viewers, the league will stick and he’ll got another shot next season. If not, he says, he’ll go to graduate school.