The 2016 instalment of the Elite Football League of India’s Flag Football Championship will take place on the 4th and 5th of June at the Racecourse Stadium with the active participation of 20 teams who would be battling it out for the SAGT trophy.
The EFLI Flag Football initiative that started off in the year 2011 has gained a considerable follower base with its popularity growing mainly among the youth. Speaking at the press conference held to announce the launch of the championship, tournament director Dilory Fernando mentioned that the initiative he started small is in the process of expanding,
“When we started the ELFI Flag Football Championship, we had only two teams participating. It was a good start and last year we had 16 teams and this year’s tournament will feature 20 teams competing for the trophy. That is a huge development for us”
The 2016 tournament will feature 20 university teams that will initially take part in the group stages on the 4th and the knockout stages will commence on the following day followed by the final encounter that would be played in the evening of Sunday the 5th.
South Asia Gateway Terminals will empower the EFLI initiative once again this year and with their valuable contributions, the sport has been able to spread throughout the country.
“We have initiatives of American Football commenced in Jaffna & Kandy in addition to Colombo where we have been able to provide teams with the necessary coaching, gear and the other necessities for them to function as fully pledged sports teams”
EFLI is a professional American Football League launched in India and was later followed up in Sri Lanka as an initiative to introduce the sport to the South Asia region. As a responsibility entrusted to the Sri Lankan body, the sport has been introduced in Jaffna and Kandy and they intend to spread the game to the other parts in the coming months.
In a cricket and rugby loving country, Dilroy believes that American Football has a scope to develop as an alternate sport that has less complicated rules and can easily be understood,
“In rugby you have the forward passes and the knock-ons but here in American Football, you don’t get those and you can play with fewer rules and rugby players can play the sport during off season to get themselves fit.”
The flag football tournament will be the start of the 2016 season and a similar flag football tournament will come alive during the month of July. In November Sri Lanka intends on hosting an American football tournament with the participation of teams from UAE and Pakistan.
American Football which is America’s favorite sport is likely to be shortlisted for the 2020 Olympics that will take place in Japan. Sri Lanka has shown considerable growth in the sport and with discussions currently in progress with the Ministry of Sports, the sport can be the next big thing in the country.