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Games people play after dark

Bangalore Mirror 22 /02/ 2015

This 35,000 sq ft facility was set up in 2008 as an indoor cricket space after the Dubai-based owners noted how popular the concept was abroad. Besides the five courts for cricket, XLR8 provides facilities for 12 sports including five-a-side football, volleyball and also has an outdoor swimming pool. "Most working people lead busy lives and don't have time to play the long format which takes a few hours," says Vijay Lancy, vice president, XLR8. "There they can play by paying by the hour or sign up for an annual membership." They get nearly 80,000 bookings per year, but preference is given to members. Amjad Kizhakkayll, an employee of DigiCaptions, used to play football at a ground near East Railway station in Frazer Town before he came to XLR8 when his office organised a corporate tournament in November 2013. "One disadvantage about playing in an open ground is that other people interfere with your game. But at XLR8 you have a court to yourself," he says, adding that the additional rules that accompany indoor football make it challenging and engaging. Besides being a place to unwind, XLR8 hosts fortnightly open tournaments on alternate Fridays where teams can compete against each other.

‘Metz’thod to the footie!

Deccan Chronicle 29 /03/ 2019

Indian football got a French toast of the footballing kind with former Indian footballer and manager Eric Benny partnering with a Ligue 1 FC Metz, a talent nurturing club in France. Albiet, a small ripple in the billion ocean of India, the man who has in the past represented India at the Asian Games 2010 and for the Olympic Qualifiers 2011 as the manager of the national team, Benny is a believer of the beautiful game and aspires to change India’s languishing rating in world football while helping the youth get a foundation. In the city to scout for talent, Eric was busy dissecting the keepie-uppies and technical skills at XLR8. “Nobody in the history of Indian football has been able to accomplish this. We are partnering with FC Metz and this is a lifetime opportunity,” explains the man who regards the father of French football as his mentor, saying, “He is the man behind the brilliance of Eric Cantona. My interactions with him are grounded and focused on football and nurturing talent. He has unique experience. The most intriguing aspect is that he is always there to help and support me, I feel blessed.” Known for his coaching style with Palian Arrows, an I- League outfit, he now scouts the Indian heartland for the next generation of footballers. He looks deeper into the whys of our lack of footballing accolades. “Footballing is a way of life in Europe — it starts in school and we want to give the boys a cultural, technical, mental and analytical experience with the French club,” he explains, an objective that spearheads Eric Benny Sports Management too. That apart, the Eric Benny Foundation aims to help the lesser privileged explore and learn about the beautiful game. It’s been four-and-a-half years since FC Metz opened its gates to India, and Eric is thrilled at the first batch graduating in August — a boy is already in an Ivy League Club on a 90 per cent scholarship. Benny has travelled to Europe and learnt from the best, “One of the most memorable moments was meeting Robert Pires, the Arsenal legend who’s career started at FC Metz — The interactions with Pires were inspiring and thought-provoking. He is the most humble and accomplished player, and managed to touch my ‘football’ soul,” recalls Eric who brushes away his past footballing career saying that it was nothing but a training ground for the work he has cut out — which in itself is a gargantuan task. FC Metz has produced players such as Franck Ribery, Robert Pires, Emmanuel Adebayor, Louis Saha, etc. “Adebayor to Louis Saha, they have taught me about the game,” adds Benny. Today, he scouts for talent and he feels, “I intend to start a Youtube channel for these youngsters so I can share my knowledge and experience.” An adventure lover, Eric chills out with his son on camping trips or expeditions and loves taking road trips. Indian football lies between a rock and a hard place, and Eric agrees, hoping that his programme will instill belief. “The nine Indian players are living their dream alongside excelling in studies. The primary goal is to create brand ambassadors for Indian football. If you believe in your dreams then work on it. Anything is possible.” Which is a way forward alright, but if only there were more such initiatives for the Indian footballer to flourish.

Getting a kick out of it

The Telegraph 12 /08/ 2015

Consider XLR8, owned by the Dubai-based Santosh Shetty's Expat Leisure and Resorts, which is leveraging its large land banks in India. Its Bangalore facility is spread over five acres, and has provision for 14 different sports within its huge warehouse-like shell in Hennur. The sports facilities on offer include basketball, net cricket, volley ball, handball or wall climbing and an outdoor swimming pool. One can pay by the hour or sign up for an annual membership. "We have also had fortnightly open football tournaments for students for 142 fortnights continuously, with 18 nationalities participating," says the amiable Taher Ali Khan, a level three national football coach and centre manager. This year, 98 teams participated at its annual Indoor Corporate Olympics. Khan says while no market research went into the setting up of XLR8, the company was initially keen on doing indoor cricket, drawing on its experience of cricket's "massive appeal" in Dubai. But although Indians are a cricket-crazy nation, there were few takers for the pay-and-play idea. Instead, football turned out to be a serious money spinner. Not just for XLR8 but others like Powerplay, Five Aside and Kicks on Grass too. Other sports are also finding takers. "That's why XLR8 is opening in several cities - Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram and a second one in Bangalore. The Thiruvananthapuram centre will be a lavish one, spread across 60-odd acres and will include a full-fledged international cricket stadium, eight tennis courts, a golf course and swimming pools. Hyderabad is smaller at 24 acres with two outdoor cricket stadia, three football fields, six indoor courts and eight badminton courts. The Pune XLR8 is housed within a mall, a kilometre from the airport. The hourly charges can average about Rs 1,200 for a football team or a nets practice which, divided among the team members, works out to Rs 100 per head - eminently affordable for a generation that often spends more than that on a cup of coffee. In cities where land availability is a constraint, similar facilities exist but as part of a mall or office complex. And the hourly price, says Chaudhary, who plays in Mumbai with his brother, is about 1.5-2 times that of Bangalore's sports facilities.

Law Enforcement Meets Fitness Empowerment in Bengaluru

The Hans India 17 /11/ 2015

Urban Fitness today announced that it has started an engagement program with the Bengaluru Police in Functional Fitness to increase their energy levels and make daily work more comfortable. The 10-week program, initiated from Monday, is designed to increase the mobility and functionality in people’s lives. Urban Fitness initiated the first batch, consisting of 15 policemen, at the XLR8 Indoor Sports Arena in the North Division with the support of Addl.C.P Sri. Pratap Reddy, IPS and DCP North-East Vikas Kumar Vikas, IPS. A former athlete himself, DCP Vikas Kumar Vikas, IPS, said, “It's not just about the police. Fitness is important for everybody. They have to be available not just six days a week but all seven days. If they are fit, they will be mentally alert and relaxed - which is what is expected.”

The India Invitation Cup indoor cricket tournament - XLR8

The Hindu 15 /09/ 2011

The India Invitation Cup indoor cricket tournament will commence at the XLR8 indoor sports arena Bangalore on Thursday (Sept. 15). The tri-nation competition, conducted under the aegis of the Indian Indoor Cricket Federation, will feature teams from Sri Lanka, South Africa and India.

City Policemen Switch to a New Fitness Regime

The New Indian Express 18 /11/ 2015

A fitness regime for the Bengaluru police, designed by Urban Fitness, kickstarted recently. This 10-week functional fitness programme concentrates on increasing their energy levels and making their routine work more easier and comfortable. The scientifically designed programme was initiated at XLR8 Indoor Sports Arena with the full support of Additional CP Pratap Reddy and DCP North-East Vikas Kumar Vikas.

Indoors, outdoors

The Hindu 23 /02/ 2012

People XLR8, the five-court indoor sports facility, offers the option of playing games such as cricket and football under one roof Sports infrastructure is the need of the hour. And that is what XLR8 provides. A unique five-court indoor sports facility on the Hennur Main Road is an answer to many prayers. “For me it's a legacy to leave behind for the next generation,” says Henry D' Souza, CEO of XLR8. “We are providing an opportunity for people from all walks in life to take the field — be it cricket, football, volleyball, netball, basketball or just plain rock climbing...under one roof.” Vijay Lancy, General Manager, XLR8, and a former national badminton player who won the men's singles title at the Bangalore National Games in 1997, says, “XLR8 is not meant to be an acronym for accelerate, but that is how it was derived. Indoor cricket and futsal are very popular the world over. Australia, with over 185 such centres, has revolutionised indoor sport. “So is the case with countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, and Japan. Even in the UK there are dozens of such centres catering to a whole lot of disciplines. In our country this is the only one, while another of a smaller variety has come up in Bannerghatta Road as well.” Says Henry, “Anyone can avail of this facility over a weekend. An indoor cricket match lasts for an about an hour and a half or two and there is satisfaction at the end of the day of having played a game. Moreover, it's entertaining to all.” Lancy feels that with its different rules, indoor cricket is a terrific innovation. “There is a World Cup for the sport but in our country there is no association or body that runs indoor cricket. In an eight-over contest every player bowls an over and every pair in the middle gets to face two overs each. It's an eight-a-side cricket match and five runs are deducted for every dismissal. It's very exciting and fun. Through our centre here we have introduced this form of the game and today there are many corporates and even schools and colleges that are taking it up in a big way.” Futsal, the indoor five-a-side variant of football, is another sport that has caught on among corporates and college-goers. “It may not be of the professional kind or mainstream sport, but the enthusiasm and excitement that it generates is awesome,” says Lancy. There are other sports too at the 33,000 square foot indoor facility, says Henry. “There is mini golf (putting only), two tennis courts, a smaller indoor arena for badminton and a squash court. A heated swimming pool and a full-fledged gymnasium and health and fitness centre are also coming up soon at the centre. It will also have a club house. A group from Australia is here and plans are afoot to build two more such centres in Bangalore besides other cities. The dream is to get everyone onto the field to play any sport they want,” he adds. There were teething problems, Henry admits. “It came up three years ago. There were issues and the concept was yet to catch up at first, but the corporate culture that Bangalore enjoys has turned things around and from this year we should be breaking even, more or less. Profit making as a business venture will take some more time.” The centre played host to a three-nation indoor cricket tournament with South Africa and Sri Lanka. XLR8's own team finished second in the Asia Development Cup tournament in Sri Lanka in 2009 and in the very same year, its football team lifted the Winter Friendship Cup five-a-side tourney in Dubai. Recently the centre played host to a futsal event with three teams from South Korea's Hallelujah Club participating in what they called an Inter Continental Cup and two of the XLR8 teams advanced much beyond expectations. The centre has not only provided the facility and organised events but also groomed talents within.

Best Foot Forward

Deccan Herald 10 /10/ 2015

Cricket has ruled the country’s sporting arena for a long time now. But football is now orbiting the City with more fans coming out and showing their love for the sport. Bengalureans are not just sitting back and watching the ‘battle between the masses’ on the small screens. They are taking part in these battles as the City is providing them more opportunities to connect to their favourite sport. Football is racing fast ahead and there are a number of indoor studios and play arenas here now. Sports firms like ‘XLR8’, ‘Play Arena’...are renting out football arenas for the crazy fans of the sport. In a City that has a lot of cricket stadiums, these play arenas have become a boon to the zealous football lovers. ‘XLR8’ on Hennur Road provides scope for tournaments with playing kits, referees and also furnished statistics of the entire tournament of football along with some other sports. “We offer indoor cricket, indoor football, throwball, volleyball....But we get more bookings for football, both on weekdays and weekends. The players have to be in appropriate sports gear and adhere to the timings of the game. We charge Rs 1,500 on the weekdays and Rs 2,000 on the weekends,” says Cetric Joe, Manager of ‘XLR8’. Another firm that rents out fields for this sport is ‘Play Arena’ on Sarjapur Road. Anirudh of Play Arena says, “One has to book months in advance to get the football arena here. Our football fields are open till 2 am, but still they are crowded. We sometimes divide the arena into two halves and also convert the cricket arena to football as there is an increased demand for football grounds. We charge the players depending on the size of the field. Our regulars here can play till 2 am and they enjoy it.” Football enthusiasts feel that these studios are a blessing. “I go almost every alternate day to these arenas. They have full-fledged facilities with well-versed grounds. You get that real feel while you play the game,” says Vendanth, a football enthusiast. He adds, “Football is now being given importance in the City and there should be more encouragement provided to football-lovers. The government should invest more and promote this sport.” Another football-lover, Satvik Loganathan says, “I go thrice a week to play football. We have a group on WhatsApp and we plan the tournaments and go play in these arenas. They are an asset to football-lovers.” What about the cost effectiveness of these places? He says, “They charge depending on the quality of the turf. There are places that charge just Rs 600 per hour. They are pretty cheap but the quality of the turf in their fields is not that great. But the places that charge around Rs 1,500 per hour have very well polished grounds with expensive turfs that can make for a perfect game.” There are also a bunch of IT employees who lose themselves in this 90-minute-game at these arenas, wraps up Satvik.