Hailing IPL for successfully creating loyal followers, India tennis star Leander Paes on Friday said the city-based franchise league is the way forward to popularise other sports, which need to replicate the model of the popular cricket tournament.
In the USA, a city-based franchise tennis tournament --World Team Tennis (WTT) -- is extremely popular and Paes said something on those lines should be introduced in Indian tennis as well as other sports in the country.
"IPL is close relevant of the World Team Tennis (WTT). The stadia are packed with fans for entire 21 days. The format of the tournament makes it interesting for the viewers. Also there are great players participating in the league. That is what IPL has been successful in doing here and we have to learn from it to replicate it in other sports," said Paes, who plays for Washington Kastles franchise in WTT.
Paes was speaking at the Star Sports India Pro Leagues Forum on the subject of "Growing the Club Culture".
"Cricket may not be the fastest sport nor the most athletic one but it has successfully managed to get the community involved with it. Linking franchises with major cities of the country, the IPL has been able get supporters who identify with their teams. They believe they are a part of the team," the 14-time Grand Slam title winner said.
"The focus of a league is also very important. It should be an entire family packages. People from all age group should be attracted to it. It should offer people something tangible they believe in."
The 40-year-old veteran said the timing of hosting a league was very important as the event required lot of investment and focus should be on grabbing as many eyeballs as possible.
"A professional league brings like-minded people as a vehicle to popularise the game. Lot of efforts goes into it. The timing of any league is very important to garner maximum response. With so many tournaments happening in any sport, a league should be able to draw best players from across the world. The timing and the duration of the event is also very crucial as there is a large dependency on television viewerships," said the current US Open doubles champion.
Paes added that growth of league culture gives opportunity for budding players to learn from their role models and become future stars.
"Such leagues give chance to upcoming players to rub shoulders with some of the greats of the game, which in turn widens the talent pool of a country. I believe in 10 years we will have multiple medal winners at the Olympics," he said.
He said a league gives an opportunity to athletes, corporates to flourish, besides the sport gaining fans.
"IPL governance is so well done. IPL has been able to evolve rules, governance and involve communities. It has allowed athletes to flourish. The businesses also gain from it. It's a win-win situation for everyone," Paes added.