Being home to the largest youth populace on the earth, India has a huge potential to become a Superpower in Olympics. While this concern has been voiced from several corners, it must be understood that understanding what is going wrong with us now and implementing organized efforts to achieve this cherished end can certainly make the dreams come true in the near future.
1. Investment in infrastructure at grassroots level
The budding sportsmen and sportswomen of our country do not have access to the best infrastructure. To be able to compete at the top level, we need to have more stadiums and the basic infrastructure. For instance, the introduction of astroturf inflicted a death blow on Indian hockey players who dominated every Olympics in hockey till then. This is because due to the lack of basic infrastructure, Indian hockey fields could not replicate it.
Why Indian cricketers are not able to do well in fielding is due to this fact. Indian children have to play in fields that have stones and therefore they do not acquire the habit of diving, a tendency that stays with them throughout their career.
Budding sportsmen should have access to equipment. For example, professional robots can help master the skills in table tennis, but unfortunately we lack them. At the same time, the available infrastructure is mismanaged and not marketed properly and in most cases, the public is not made aware of them. Look at the case of Commonwealth games stadium near Akshardham.
There is a serious setback in the country when it comes to commercializing sports. We can take inspiration from how Reliance is commercializing football understanding that great players like Roberto, Carlos, Anelka, Elano and Materazzi can create a positive impact on the budding football players. We need to remember that ace archer Deepika Kumari’s father is still running an auto rickshaw. Mahesh Bhupati’s ITPL immensely boosted tennis and in 2017, U-17 FIFA Footbal world cup is expected to boost the market significantly.
Remembering the scene of Kukreja Cooker in Sultan, we need to understand the importance of having best marketing minds behind every sports. Marketing companies and agencies need to take up the task of doing this in the arena of every sport. If people are able to perceive a lucrative career in sports, they are going to jump into it.
3. Inducting Players in Governing body
Talking of governing bodies in sports, we can recall the most famed dialogue in the movie sala khadoos, “India me sports me se politics nikal ke dekho. Har ek kone se players niklenge”. We need to ensure that only former players enter the governing body as only they can understand the problems faced by the players and solve them.
Our times need good administrators to market and manage sports. Let us remember how Anil Kumble could change the scene of Karnataka cricket. It is essential to see the governing bodies include players to run them and professional MBA marketing professionals to administer them. Talking of abusing power, we see the case of a politician in Haryana who is using sports authority to build muscle power for personal use, which can never be justified.
4. Taking Care of players after retirement?
Sportsmen always do have a very small professional life. Once they retire, many of them struggle even for basic survival. We must think of a pension system to support the players who have played at a certain level. We also need to create enough avenues where they can share their skills and earn a livelihood. We should not forget the case where Sultan had to beg for blood bank from the minister. In their retired life, players can become great coaches for future legends and help bring out their talents to limelight. We must create an academy to make trained former players into coaches.
So strangely, even a legend like Zinadene Zidane had to take coaching lesson for coaching a team. We see that the former players like Prakash Padukone are doing an excellent job in this regard where the students trained by them are performing very well.
Sports must be included in curriculum and give due importance. Though colleges have quotas for extra-curricular activities, the minimum eligibility criterion is to have played in the national or state levels. Since a player who came in the fourth level (who has also put in a lot of hard work) would be deprived of a chance, we do not see many students getting attracted to sports. Reflect on the fact how many players know the icons Pankaj advani, Geet Sethi, Dipika Pallikal, Jeev milkha Singh, Vishwanathan Anand, Dhyan Chand and Dhanraj pillay. In fact, most of us do not know of Abhinav Bindra before 2008 Olympic and Mark Kom Before 2012 olympics or before seeing the movie. We need to make icons and sports legends as poster boys.
5. Develop Sports culture
We need to admit that India seriously lacks a sports culture, which we must be able to create. Think of the famous saying, “Kheloge kudoge hoge khraab Padhoge likhoge banoge nawaab”. Unfortunately, this is the common belief these days. In India, we never value sports as important as academics. In the face of exams, we stop practice sessions. While parents are not to be blamed wholly for this, there is a vicious circle around us which we must shatter for good.We need to Develop a sports Culture in our Eco-System which will produce More Players like Usain Bolt-Micheal Pheleps,Rafael Nadal
An article by Shrenuj Jalan, Founder & CEO – BazaarCart.com