Rivalries have a definitive influence on the experience of sport. Ask any hardened fan of sport and you will hear without hesitation that the pleasure of a derby is a nearly unparalleled joy. And the EFLI is laying the foundation for lasting rivalries in Mumbai and Pune.
The lasting impressions on the minds of those in the midst of derbies in New York, Manchester, Madrid and Milan – to pick just a handful are passed on from generation to generation. In the process, the legendary battle seeps into the DNA of the people in the city, like strands of culture weaving through the hungry souls of lustful fans.
The EFLI may still be a nascent league taking shape and form right under our eager glare, but the foundation is being laid for an exciting pair of derbies.
Mumbai is gearing up to become the host of two solid teams – the Mumbai Gladiators and Navi Mumbai, from the fast growing part of the city.
The Pune Maratha team has already established itself as one of the premier teams in the embryonic league and their battles against the Blue Panthers, also from Pune are set to enthrall the academic and professional crowds that teem around that city.
Unlike with the Mumbai teams, which have a clear geographical base to identify with, it will be absolutely interesting to see how the chips fall in Pune. There is a large student population in Pune and an equally thriving working crowd and who they might embrace is a random guess at this time.
The Maratha’s sure have one trick sealed – in that their name evokes a natural alignment with the local population. The Pune Blue Panthers on the other hand will have to earn their stripes the hard way.
The next few months will be an interesting journey for these teams – as they prepare for the league and simultaneously work to engage with their catchment of people to establish and nourish bonds.