India may soon launch government-supported and privately-sponsored inter-university hockey and cricket leagues, loosely modelled on American collegiate sports leagues - which are credited with regularly churning out Olympic champions.
A month after India returned from the London Olympics with its best-ever summer games haul of five medals, human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal indicated keenness to build on the success, sources told HT.
The HRD minister met senior officials of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) last week to discuss the proposal.
The plan involves creating a University Cricket League and a University Hockey League, and then expanding to other sports once they are established, sources said.
"The idea is to create a highly competitive inter-university sports league structure that cultivates and hones young talent in these sports," a senior government official said. "These could loosely be modelled on the American college leagues."
Though there are several small inter-college and inter-university cricket tournaments run by a few private universities, none of these are either national in nature or recognised by the government.
The planned leagues will be formally operated by the universities' association, which counts all recognised universities - over 300 in all - as members.
At least one private broadcast media firm has shown interest in sponsoring the leagues, sources said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) organises inter-varsity championships in the US for sports ranging from American football to swimming.
The tough-as-nails NCAA competitions have produced many of that country's top Olympic champions.