Now volleyball joins the league bandwagon!

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Following in the footsteps of cricket, football, badminton and hockey having their own franchise-based cash-rich tournaments, volleyball has now joined the bandwagon with the sport’s national federation announcing its own league here on Wednesday.

Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) and sports marketing firm Sportzlive have jointly launched the Indian Volleyball League (iv League) — a franchise-based tournament for women, men and beach volleyball. It will be played under the aegis of Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) in three stages starting July 2016.

The ‘iv League’ will commence with the women’s event followed by the men’s tournament in October. The beach league is being planned in December-January, rounding off at least 40 days of volleyball action.

“Volleyball is one of the most popular and most played games in the world with about 900 million players globally while in India the sport enjoys a strong following in both rural and urban areas,” VFI president Chaudhury Avadesh Kumar said.

“We believe that the sport, which is played in over 200 countries, presents an opportunity to inspire younger generations. Our aim is not only to revitalise the sport but to make volleyball a viable career option for budding players.”

The three events, which will have a minimum of six city-based franchises each, will be played in a round-robin format followed by knockouts, travelling the length and breadth of the country in a caravan format. Each team will host a minimum of four international players, including a ‘marquee player’ — all selected through a draft.

Sportzlive will be responsible for the overall management of the league including live production and broadcast rights management, sponsors outreach, and branding and marketing. They were also the marketing partners of the recently concluded Premier Badminton League (PBL).

“The Indian market is poised for a larger sports ecosystem and the creation of such leagues will eventually enhance the quality of specific sports played in the region,” Sportzlive promoter Atul Pande said.

“Sportzlive intends to bring in professionalism and innovation to sports to create value for all stakeholders — the federations, players, team owners, sponsors and, most importantly, the fans. The ‘iv League’ will inspire the next generation to take up the sport in large numbers.”

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