Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and IMG, the world’s leading sports marketing and management company, announced an equal joint venture to develop, market and manage sports and entertainment in India. The venture, IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd., will have parallel complementary strategies: to provide and operate world class infrastructure and coaching facilities in the country to unlock India’s sporting potential and; to create and operate major sports and entertainment assets in the country.
A press release from Reliance Industries Ltd. said the senior management teams of the two organizations led by their respective Chairmen Mukesh Ambani and Ted Forstmann had formulated clear ambitions and strategies for the new company. “The idea is to try to begin to make this country much more proficient in sports other than cricket,” Forstmann said in an interview in Mumbai. IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd. will harness IMG’s international expertise gained in over 50 years in the business of sport, entertainment and celebrity management with RIL’s expertise in the domestic market, strategic planning and flawless execution.
Under the auspices of The Reliance Foundation, the corporate social responsibility initiative of Reliance Industries, state of the art sporting academies will be developed to provide world class coaching and training facilities for Indian sportsmen and sportswomen. The required infrastructure investment will be provided by The Reliance Foundation. IMG Academies, Florida the world’s leading sporting and educational institution which has many alumni who have pursued successful professional sporting careers on the world stage will provide management knowledge and coaching skills transfer to the management and coaching teams of the Academies in India which will be managed by the joint venture.
IMG Reliance Pvt. will use “special-purpose vehicles,” to build sporting infrastructure and will replicate IMG’s facilities in Bradenton, Florida, which have trained athletes, including tennis players Andre Agassi and National Basketball Association player Vince Carter.
“The market is gigantic,” said Forstmann, whose company helped set up the Indian Premier League for the Twenty20 format. “In a country with a middle class growing like India, sports entertainment and media are going to be things that the country is going to want more and more.” He further added that, “The performance of Indian athletes on the national and international stage will improve dramatically with the correct development strategies. The No. 1 sport in the world is soccer. It would be a great thing for this country to have a really competitive national team.”
Mukesh Ambani said development of sports and a sporting culture was a social imperative for India in the 21st century. “World class infrastructure, frugal engineering, technology and scientific coaching are an integral part of development of today’s sporting talent globally. IMG has an enviable track record of leveraging these aspects and identifying, training and developing champion talent across disciplines,” he said.
Mrs. Nita Ambani, Member on the Board, IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd. added, “I am excited about the comprehensive relationship with IMG which will seek to unlock the potential of young India at a global platform. Reliance Foundation will invest in the infrastructure development of the globally renowned IMG Academies in India. We are committed to undertake grassroots development programme to make a fundamental difference to the lives of millions of youngsters in the country based beyond the big cities.”
In keeping with Fostermann’s belief – “Heroes get created,” IMG and Reliance will begin this year by sponsoring 20 Indian students to train in Florida. The venture aims to produce world-class athletes in golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, and Olympic sports to help India “go win some medals”!