Sachin Tendulkar may have retired from international cricket but that does not mean he's not in touch with the global sporting scenario. In fact, his retirement from cricket has only made him focus that much more on the international sporting sphere.
Ask Prasad V Potluri, the man behind PVP Ventures that have recently partnered with Tendulkar to acquire the Kochi franchise of the Indian Super League (ISL).
"Sachin is an appellate authority in himself when it comes to sport. And I'm not just referring to cricket. I interacted with him during the Indian Badminton League (IBL) last year where we discussed our strategy to promote and nurture sports in India. We presented our vision in sport to him and the amazing sporstman that he is, he was immediately drawn to it.
"That's how our partnership for the Kochi franchise came about. He has an immense and in-depth knowledge of not just cricket but most other international sports.
He understands all permutations and combinations — the dos and don'ts — he's very well equipped with all of that," Potluri, who also owns the IBL franchise Hyderabad Hotshots, told mid-day over the phone from Hyderabad yesterday.
However, Tendulkar had a condition. He was keen that whatever PVP were planning, it had to be long-term. "Sachin understands the ethos of sport in India. And that's the reason he wanted to come on board, but only if we had a long-term vision in place. Fortunately, that was exactly our vision too," added Potluri.
Tendulkar, who turns 41 today, has partnered PVP in their acquisition of the Rafael Nadal-led Mumbai franchise of the International Tennis Premier League (ITPL) too. In fact, PVP's strategy to gain a foothold in the sports business has been simple.
'Go for the best'
"In badminton, we have the biggest name in India (Saina), in ISL we have the biggest name in Indian cricket (Tendulkar) and now in the ITPL we have World No 1 Nadal. It's been our conscious strategy — to go for the best — because only if you bring along an icon can you build the sport and your team around him or her. It's the icon that inspires the sport and the fans after all.
At the IBL auctions, Saina was the first name listed and we grabbed her. And the result is there for all too see. She led from the front — was the only player in the IBL who did not lose a single match and eventually won the title for us," explained Potluri.
The Indian fan is on the cusp of a revolutionary change as far as the franchise concept is concerned, felt Potluri. "Simply put, India is one of the youngest nations in the world with 50 per cent population below 30 — for such a young generation, there must be other forms of entertainment besides cinema and cricket. America was like this 60 years ago — sports was not a die hard passion for fans.
"In this context, we are in a nascent stage. For how many years have we had TV in India? About 20? TV has been in existence in USA for 60 years. If we look at the NFL (National Football League) — it's about 100 years old.
The NBA (National Basketball Association) is not new either. A franchise is successful only if there is a sense of belonging for it in that region. Chicago Bulls is a religion in Chicago because they excelled in that. That's our 10-year aspiration. And eventually the Indian fan will be as passionate about sport as an American or an English football enthusiast."