A Billion Hopes await a sports ecosystem

A Billion Hopes await a sports ecosystem from Government

NSRCEL-hosted sports conclave discusses current gaps in the sports ecosystem and suggests ways for government, corporates and experts to join hands to support India’s talent

Bengaluru, 05 November, 2016: A billion hopes on sporting achievements…it is not the hopes of only our sporting people, but of all the people – our corporates, intelligentsia, academicians, etc. Every Indian wants a world-class sporting ecosystem as much as India wants economic reforms. I congratulate NSRCEL for taking up the responsibility of providing the vision, inspiration, infrastructure, analysis, simulated coaching and ultimately helping a billion dreams to come true,” said Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India, while speaking on ‘Central Government’s approach towards improving the sports sector’, during a sports-focussed conclave – ‘A Billion Hopes’, held at IIMB on November 5, 2016 (Saturday). The conclave, which is a first-time ever platform for sports entrepreneurs, was hosted by NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), the entrepreneurship and incubation centre at IIM Bangalore (IIMB), in association with its incubated company Gamatics India Pvt Ltd.

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Giving a government perspective on the subject, Ananth Kumar, said one of the priority areas of the Government is sports, and creating global-class sporting personalities and sports infrastructure. “We have trebled salaries and emoluments of all the coaches. We have launched a program called Target Olympic Podium, wherein domain experts have selected athletes, who will be groomed and made ready for the next Olympics. We are also bringing out the National Sports University Bill, under which we want to create curricula, formal opportunities, as well as a set of domain knowledge and disseminate that in different states. We can create one facility wherein everything regarding various disciplines of sports can be studied, coached, nurtured, harnessed and promoted.”

Earlier in the day, Subbi (Subramanya) Mudigere, CEO at Gamatics India Pvt. Ltd. gave a brief introduction of what Gamatics is about – how as a start-up Gamatic wants to be an enabler in the sports ecosystem in India and make a difference. He went on to say that Gamatics provides a sports/athlete-centric platform, it is technology friendly and offers access to simulated coaching, access to performance analytics, social networking, sponsoring, equipment and other facilities. “The sporting ecosystem, comprising the Government, sports bodies, doctors, equipment manufacturers, start-ups, corporates, facility providers, media, etc., to bring all this together, is the idea of the conclave. This is a defining beginning to how we can accelerate the billion hopes,” he pointed out and set the tone for the conclave.

A Billion Hopes await a sports ecosystem from Government

The conclave has representation from the Union Government, Department of Youth and Sports of Karnataka, professional and amateur athletes, coaches, sports start-ups working on digital media, school sports, grassroots level sports, financial services, wearable technology, end-to-end solutions, investors who have enabled successful PPP models in various other ecosystems, specialists like sports nutritionists, physiotherapists, rehabilitation experts, etc.

Anupam Agrawal, IPS, spoke on ‘Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports Initiatives and future plans’ and discussed what the State Government is doing for the cause. “We need to turn a billion dejections into a billion hopes by making millions play different kinds of sports. The State Government is trying to provide a lot of facilities to bring people from the rural sections or other have-nots into the sporting arena by making available basic infrastructure, sports kits, professional coaching, sports medicine and nutrition, outdoor/indoor stadiums, playgrounds, specialised centres for national level players, reimbursement of fees of schools/colleges, sports excellence scheme, pension, etc. The sports excellence scheme will identify international level players and support them. The aim of the sports policy is to address all issues concerning sports and ensure a sports culture in the state, while giving importance to the ethical aspect, and to establish sports as commercially viable. However, we are looking at CSR and other funding. Our focus will also will be on the areas of sports medicine, sports rehabilitation, and psychology. Convergence is the key. These are small efforts, until and unless we all come together, reaching the international level will not happen”.

Next to speak was Sharath Gayakwad, one of the founders of Gamatics, Arjuna awardee, Major Dhyanchand awardee, and Paralympic swimmer who represented India in the London Paralympics. He spoke on ‘Todays sports sector from the athlete’s perspective’. Discussing the current scenario, he suggested what we can do to improve sports. He told how his coach mentored him and groomed him into what he is today. “We have a lot of talent in the country, but not a platform or support system to take that to the next level”. He pointed out that sports people at the grassroots level and women in sports should be encouraged. Early dropping out from sports, due to financial constrains, educational pressure or lack of support, can be prevented. “We need to make better use of technology. Although the Government has a lot of schemes to provide financial support, it is not enough and the rate of getting support is very slow. Hence we need a faster and better support system”. He spoke about perseverance, passion and commitment, and said, “The best part of being an achiever is not winning medals, but to be able to inspire the next generation of athletes”.

Nandan Kamath, Managing Trustee of Gosports Foundation, spoke on the ‘Role of financial support in sports’ and highlighted why athletes should be funded, role of financial support in taking Indian sports forward, how the financial world has opened up to sports, how funding is structured, etc. He too concluded how the different players can strategically work together in an aligned manner in the function of funding sports and boosting sporting achievements.

Vasanth Bharadwaj, Founder Director – TENVIC, while talking on ‘Importance of identifying and supporting sports at grassroots level’, said that a stable and sustainable sporting platform needs to be built in the country. ”Today we are a nation with a lot of disposable income, opportunities, people who are looking to be entrepreneurs, there is enough space for a lot more players, and together we can transform the Indian sporting system.” He added that technology, its application and innovation can also play a vital role.

Nagaraja Prakasam, mentor at NSRCEL, spoke on ‘Success stories of PPP models in India and its relevance in sports sector’, He dwelt on how all the stakeholders can work together to move India few notches up the medal list, how to innovate, scale, join hands with the government, how to blend sports into education, how to amplify strength and create a thriving sports industry.

Entrepreneur Saumil Majmudar, Founder-Director of SportzVillage and Co-Founder & CEO, Edusports, who is an IIMB alumnus, related his start-up journey surrounding his ventures. He recounted how his company aims to improve education through sports which resulted in increased participation from girls, increased self-confidence, responsible behaviour, discipline, grades, self-defence ,fitness quotient, etc. “Trying to get 100 million to play by 2020 is out motto”.

Rahul Kargal, Product Manager Cricket, Sportskeeda, stated that the objective of sportskeeda is to take sports stories to the masses, by making the content easy to consume, which resulted in 7 lac unique visitors daily. “We write stories about athletes who are in need of support. We talk about lesser known sports. The objective is to build a sports culture in the country”.

A Billion Hopes await a sports ecosystem from Government

This was followed by two panel discussions. The first, on ‘How start-ups can join hands with the Government to uplift sports sector and in turn support needed from Government, saw each participant talk about his or her journey in enhancing sports in the country, how solutions are being built around athletes, how technology helped change and boost their business plans. However, all were of the opinion that working in silos is not the solution; an ecosystem where the athlete can connect to all the elements under one platform in the key. Although everyone is in the right direction, they need to join hands. The entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to work with Government for skilling, scaling and improving the delivery model, was the unanimous opinion.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The second panel discussion – ‘Sports beyond Practise’ – saw the panelists talk about the approach towards sports, goal, mind of the athlete, the mental aspect of the game, the ability to handle pressure at all stages of the game to give the best, importance of analyzing different sportsmen, focus can be given to sportsmen who lose to find out their problem and prevent such failures, sports medicine should focus on prevention; experts should be consulted for food and medicine, parents should allow kids to enjoy and learn from sports and perform well, a positive attitude is needed, prevention of injuries, performance enhancement, making different sports accessible to a lot of people at a cheaper cost, etc. Discipline, dedication and determination are key factors.

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