October 23, 2019

Olympics Startup

India needs an Olympics Startup.

Finally one more Olympics reaches its finale. Apart from some really spirited individual effort, which won us two medals, it was largely a disappointing run for a country with more than 1.5 billion, which sent a sizable 119-member team. With not even a single gold, India held a disappointing 87th position.

A lot has been written, seen and discussed about it and hence, this is an attempt at looking at the possibilities of improving on this by learning from our mistakes without blame games.

Assuming that nobody wants to lose, our sportsmen and women are surely trying their best. Then what is the reason for not being able to leave a mark at the Olympics; the mecca of sports? It is not that we do not have the talent. It also has nothing to do with physical or mental inabilities, as has been suggested by some. Neither is it because of our overwhelming interest for cricket. If that was the case, then we would not have names like Milkha Singh, PT Usha and a lot of other sports stars who have made India proud in the past.

I personally feel that a Startup approach is required in our country to kick-start a ‘Sports Revolution’. There are changes required at all levels of the process.

Starting from the top, politicians and politics should be kept away from sports at all levels. Deserving senior sportsmen should be given this responsibility starting from being a Minister, selection panel, training as well as administration. This will also ensure that sports is looked as a career also when you are not in active sports, which ensures a livelihood with dignity.

Infrastructure starting from the village level to the national level needs to be planned and implemented. Maybe start with 10 most popular games and then expand. This will also ensure employment at all levels. This could be a government and corporate partnership. Investment in the latest technology and techniques should be adopted, trainers trained adequately to not just identify talent but to develop the talent to achieve their true potential.

Selection process to start in schools to identify the right talent. Make sports at par with studies, which also gives schools fame and recognition when a sports talent is identified. Reward the students with scholarships for higher studies to ensure this acts as an incentive for the parents to also support this cause.

Incentives for parents to see a career in sports for the deserving kids are necessary. Be it sports scholarships for the deserving in colleges and higher studies or creating opportunities for them in the corporate world after their retirement is also critical.

When parents say, ‘study and if you have time, you can play’, is said because the parent doesn’t see a future for their kids, which needs to change.

Even if you have a personal interest, talent or money to take up any sport, it is not easy to get thru the nepotism at the different selection levels at the district, state or for that matter national level, which is one big hurdle to get the right talent.

State, National level games to be conducted and a selection committee comprising of senior sports personalities and corporate representatives to identify talent would also go a long way.

We all agree that the personalities who have made it to the National level have done so with no or hardly any facilities. While the government provides many things, it never reaches the sportsperson. A proper check and balance is required to ensure the efficiency.

Regular exposure to competitions at national & International should be facilitated. Create local sports heroes at all levels so that media makes them famous.

These will not be achieved in a short span of time but this startup approach will surely help us get there in good shape. If we can implement these to start with and help make Sports a career opportunity, we might see a sizeable difference in the performance of our country at all future sports events and especially the Olympics.