September , 2016
00:00 am

Anirban Sen

As per a study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), about 1.33 million young people are likely to take up sports as their full time profession by 2017 in India. It is also estimated that nearly 0.3 million support staff like nutritionists, psychologists, physiotherapists, and sports medicine experts will be required. The demand for qualified coaches is also expected to rise. In India, with intense mass interest in sports, the sector has huge business potential.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), under the Government of India is implementing various projects through the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to find new talents. SAI Training Centres (STC) have been modernized. But the success ratio of all these efforts is limited. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, India’s performance was unsatisfactory though this highly populous country had sent its largest contingent till date. The task of scouting talents across the country is one thing. Getting them to the victory podium is a different thing altogether. This is a humongous affair where the government needs to be aided by the private sector.

Corporatization of sports will bring in capital and necessary liquidity and help in asset creation. Furthermore, it will provide modern technology and human expertise for training athletes.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

In India, the PPP model for building sports infrastructure has been vouchsafed. Private ownership of teams and infrastructure is growing. Then there are instances in which private companies either take lease of a public stadium for a fixed tenure or they themselves build it, operate and then lease it back to the public organisations. Globally, the PPP model has been a success for the sports industry and it is expected it would prove beneficial for India as well.

FICCI’s recommendations

FICCI has recommended to the government the grant of industry status to the sector, which will increase the participation of private sector players, help sport-centric employment generation and aid in increased tax collection. It has also suggested having Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in sports.

Private Projects

Several Indian corporates have already opened state-of-the-art academies with modern facilities and services to train students. The TATA Group has played a pioneering role here. The group runs three successful facilities at Jamshedpur for archery, athletics, and football. Many of India’s sporting icons have been nurtured in these academies.

Another major non-governmental project is the Sports Excellence Programme (SEP) of JSW Sports. According to Mustafa Ghouse, CEO, JSW Sports, “The JSW Sports Excellence Programme currently mentors 39 athletes associated with athletics, swimming, boxing, wrestling, and judo.” A total of 15 medals had been won by the JSW Sports players at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. The group also owns the Bengaluru Football Club. JSW Sports is also the owner of Bengaluru Yodhas, a franchise at the Pro Wrestling League. It has also built the second largest squash academy in India at Vasind, Maharashtra.

IMG-Reliance along with Star India has started the Indian Super League to improve interest in football in the country. They are investing in improving infrastructure by developing the stadiums of their eight franchises.

The group is also undertaking programmes to make India qualify for the 2026 World Cup. To achieve this target, Reliance Foundation through its Young Champs programme has arranged for the training of 22 young footballers in Britain. Talking about the initiative, Nita Ambani Founder and Chairperson of Football Sports Development and Reliance Foundation said, “We are proud to be associated with the Premier League and are extremely thankful for their support in providing this huge opportunity for the 22 Young Champs.” Reliance Foundation   also owns the Mumbai Indians.

One of the most significant private investments in Indian sports is the Budd International Circuit (BIC) which is a formula one motor racing stadium built by the Jaypee group. It has already hosted two formulas one Indian Grand Prix in 2011 and the other in 2012. BIC is a part of Jaypee group’s sport city which will also have a cricket and a hockey stadium, a sports school and infrastructural amenities for other sports.

Not only Indian companies but several MNCs are also investing in sports and allied sectors. According to a FCCI report, international groups like Business Club Australia are investing in Indian sports. Hockey Australia with Lavasa Corporation Limited is planning to invest `200 million in infrastructure development.
Well-known clubs like FC Bayern Munich (Germany), Barcelona (Spain) and Manchester United (UK) have also collaborated with local clubs.

Private Academies

Apart from corporate houses, renowned Indian sportspersons have also set up academies to train raw talents. By dent of private sponsorships, they have been successful in building sporting centres of excellence.

Recently, Gopichand Badminton Academy (GBA) has been in the limelight for training badminton aces like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. Sindhu has won a silver medal in Rio Olympics this year.

Usha School of Athletics is a premier centre producing and nurturing various talents and Olympians Tintu Lukha.

Several non-profit organisations like Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) and Mittal Champions Trust have been supporting the sector and sporting icons like shooter Abhinav Bindra, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and Mary Kom.India is a country of multiple dimensions. Its cricket team has been consistently performing well, globally. It needs to put a policy in place to encourage other sports. In this regard, the role of private investment cannot be undermined.

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