The Mumbai Indians have just announced a five-year partnership with the 119-year-old Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) as part of which all MSSA organized inter-school tournaments will be branded as ‘MSSA-Mumbai Indians Inter-school tournament’.
“This is a significant step for Mumbai Indians in its efforts to strongly promote sports beyond cricket at the grassroots level,” said Nita Ambani, Chairperson of Reliance Foundation. There’s a tinge of Robin Hood over here. Take from Cricket and give to other sports. Cricket is where the big money is in India. In Maharashtra, that will be spread among 20 sports disciplines. The Mumbai Indians are taking an initiative in association with the MSAA to reach out to contribute towards the development of sports at the grassroots level. This will involve development of infrastructure at the Azad Maidan, sponsorship of tournaments in 20 Olympic sports and Indian games, initiating coaching programmes and allowing municipal schools to participate free of cost. The MSSA conducts sports activities for kids in under-8 to under-16 categories, developing sports at the grassroot level.
This is one wide sweeping move on the part of the Mumbai Indians. From what I gather from the sponsorship proposal over at the Maharashtra School Sports Association’s website, the title sponsorship which the Mumbai Indians are getting for one discipline would cost them Rs 10 lac. There are 20 disciplines under the MSSA. Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Carrom, Chess, Cricket, Football, Handball, Hockey, Gymnastics, Judo, Indian Games, Lawn Tennis, Squash, Table-Tennis, Throwball and Volleyball. If each discipline has its own inter school tournament in a year, that would cost the Mumbai Indians Rs 2 crores, not accounting for bulk discount.
The involvement of the Mumbai Indians here also includes investment beyond cash. They will develop a astrograss field for football, developing indoor facilities for games like badminton and table tennis, install floodlights and build stands for children with changing rooms.
While around 400 schools are affiliated to the MSSA. These schools pay an annual membership fee of Rs 2,000. The facilities would mainly be for use of the schools which come under the MSSA, the municipal schools which don’t pay the yearly fee of Rs 2000 will also be invited to participate in the tournaments free of cost.
MSSA president, Jude Rodrigues, Rev. Fr. Jude Rodrigues, has said, “The opportunity to be associated with Mumbai Indians will bring innovation and inspiration to MSSA. MSSA is a vast pool of talents waiting to be tapped. This will improve the opportunities and prospects for kids with the potential to become good citizen and great sportsperson of tomorrow. We have 400 schools under our jurisdiction and have a long-term lease over 12,000-odd square metre area at the northern end of Azad Maidan. We have a football ground, three tennis courts and a basketball court.”
Rather than have different sponsors support different disciplines, homogeneity of having one brand sponsor all these disciplines will result in a magnification of the publicity and success of each discipline. Synergy, total greater than sum of its parts. Also with the extensive foothold which the Mumbai Indians have in the sports industry, it will help in giving an extra impetus to the development of the other sports covered by the MSAA.