Premier Handball League is the catalyst to ignite growth of the sport in India: Manu Agrawal, CEO – Bluesport Entertainment

Handball is one of those sports that are often played at schools, colleges and universities but has failed to materialize as a mainstream sport on a professional level. India’s performance in Handball at the Asian Championships, Asian Games and South Asian Games has been sub-par to say the least, but with the introduction of the Premier Handball League the standard of sport is expected to drastically improve with significant investment at the grassroot level.

In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Manu Agrawal, CEO and Co-Founder, Bluesport Entertainment speaks about investing in the handball ecosystem in India, grassroot development, franchise teams in the Premier Handball League, the future of non-cricketing leagues, overcoming challenges and his long term goals.

Q 1) An investment of 240 crores is a significant sum for the handball ecosystem in India. What are the factors that make you confident in seeing a return on your investment in the future?

Handball is the world’s fastest Olympic sport, played by 190 countries across the world. If anything, this is an initial level investment and we are open to much more over a period of time to ensure we take the game to its true potential in India and as a business house, monetize the same. 

If we look at successful leagues in India, it’s very clear that there are huge returns to be exploited if one is committed to a sport and takes it to the masses. Handball is one of the most exciting indoor sports and we know there are a huge number of registered and unregistered players, it’s played widely in schools, colleges and universities across India. We are commercializing the sport and we understand that there are good returns to be reaped if we invest in the development of a sports ecosystem.

Handball is a great sport. It is a team game which people love. There is a goal practically every minute. Matches are just one hour long, high on adrenaline and action and keep viewers engaged every second of the match.

The sports entertainment market is just starting in India when it comes to non-cricket Olympic sports and it’s here to stay and since there is a huge population of youth in India and this youth is definitely going to love a fast-paced game, I strongly believe that there is a huge market potential for the sport of Handball in India to grow.

Q 2) How will the Premier Handball League improve the grassroots development of the sport? Will there be a significant investment in this sector to ensure the health of the handball ecosystem in India?

Premier Handball League is the catalyst to ignite the growth of handball in India by taking this Olympic sport to the masses through broadcast and other promotions. This will support grassroots development of the sport indirectly by increasing private participation and international tie-ups. We are going to make a significant investment directly as well towards grassroots development under various programs like:

•    Talent Search for Athletes at a Grassroot Level
•    Junior Development Program
•    Competition exposure and Handball Academies
•    Coaches’ upgradation programs
•    Developing a Club culture for Handball in India
Q 3) With Garvit Gujarat already announced as the first franchise team of the league, when are the remaining five expected to be revealed?

We are going to announce one franchise team of the league every month, starting November 2021.

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Q 4) According to you, what is the future of the non-cricketing leagues in India? Do you believe there will be a great deal of commercial value in terms of brand sponsorships and broadcasting rights?

India is a huge market for sports entertainment and untapped to a large extent when it comes to non-cricket sports. Demand for non-cricket sports and leagues is bound to come with the improving performance of India at the Olympics. Team sports should be able to get a major chunk of this uncharted territory. However, to make Indian national teams perform better at the international level, it's crucial to invest in the grassroots development of a sport and develop a sports culture, something we are trying to do with Handball through the Premier Handball League.

Brand sponsorships and broadcasting rights work under a process called demand and supply. Brands want to maximize returns on their marketing spending in terms of sponsorships and broadcasters want viewership. As long as a sport can reach masses, generate interest through the sports and execution of the league, and continue to build presence cutting across age and gender categories, or what one can call, generate demand for a sport, getting commercial deals in terms of brand sponsorships and broadcast rights is not going to be an issue.

mr-manu-agrawal-ceo-and-co-founder-bluesport-entertainment-pvt-ltd-1 Premier Handball League is the catalyst to ignite growth of the sport in India: Manu Agrawal, CEO - Bluesport Entertainment

Q 5) As CEO of Bluesport Entertainment, what are the various challenges that you have faced in a start-up sports venture? How did you overcome them?

The various challenges that we have faced in a start-up sports venture are:

•    Lack of a Sports Culture in India
•    Low success rate of Indian teams at Olympics
•    Limited participation by Private Sector in non-cricket sports
•    Lack of Club Structure
•    Lack of Infrastructure

These are challenges faced by all entrepreneurs connected to a sports venture in India. It’s an early stage and while we, as a company, can not claim that we have overcome all challenges, we can say that we have a process to overcome these challenges. It’s a long process but we are following the process through its three main components, namely, development of sports culture in Handball, education & awareness through digital penetration and technological integration. 

Q 6) What are your long-term goals and objectives for the Premier Handball League? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Our Long-term Goals are:

•    To popularise the sport of Handball and make it a household sport
•    To develop Premier Handball League into the most popular indoor sports league in India
•    To develop a feeder league for the Premier Handball League through a Club Structure for Handball in India
•    To ensure a viable business model to grow with the sport


•    To build an eco-system for the development of handball in India
•    Curating and enabling players to reach international standards and represent India in the Olympics
•    To develop a competitive league with exposure to International Handball players and international exchange programs for Indian handball players


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