Our outlook towards sports is largely shaped by our interpretation of victory or defeat. However, sports is a celebration of participation, competitiveness and preparedness to face victory or defeat, as a society. To celebrate the spirit of Rio Olympics 2016, we present a Skill Talk by Deep Mukherjee, Star Sports, Secretary General, CII National Committee on Sports. Let’s read on to know more about how CII is driving innovative interventions to build a sports ecosystem in India systematically impacting at the grassroots level.
Sports still doesn’t happen to be a part of our daily lives as an activity, it is seen more like an indulgence. The initiative by CII National Committee on Sports is trying about to bring a change to make it a part of our daily lives, just like TV, movies, books and music. There are five areas that need special focus to bring the positive influence of sports in our lives and eventually transform the sporting landscape in India.
How do we make sports a part of the curriculum? When kids play sports early in their lives, it helps them in honing their life skills, working in teams, developing cognitive skills and keeping fit. We believe that sports plays a large role to acquire a whole range of skills and abilities. There are enough empirical data to show that kids who play sports are much stronger from application of knowledge perspective and intuitive skills than students who don’t. I think sports should become a compulsory norm in schools as a subject like maths, science, history and so on. Currently, there are two challenges: one, it is not part of the curriculum, and two, even if is a part of the curriculum, it is not being implemented properly.
The schools either do not know how to go about it or are not aware of the benefits accrued to the students due to sports. We are trying to change both, by making them aware of the benefits of sports to our daily lives, and by enabling them to engage with service providers who have the capability and skills to organise sports education in schools, across levels.
We are aware of the insufficient infrastructure in our country to promote and support sports. Though we may be debating about the number of stadiums needed, we also need to be aware of the infrastructure that is kept under lock and key. For example, many large schools/ colleges/ institutions have huge sporting facilities that lie unused after school hours. If we are able to leverage the existing infrastructure in a systematic way by encouraging people to play sports and games of their choice, we will have more participation. The objective is to create self sustaining models where the service providers leverage existing infrastructure from schools/ colleges to make people play.
There is a need to evangelise sports to the society so that people appreciate its values in improving the quality of life and change their outlook/attitude towards sports. We need to educate the parents about the positive impact of sports so that they allow their kids to balance their studies with play, and realise that it improves their overall performance in school. Similarly, schools need to be told about significance of inculcating a sporting culture by avoiding over emphasis on academics and preparing for examinations as the sole criteria for performance. So, there is huge need to educate people with right messaging on sports in the society across mediums .
The next important question is – how do we make brands and corporates invest in sports? Incidentally, sports is a 2 billion dollar industry; in fact, it is bigger than the Indian film industry! And my belief is that it can become a 10 billion dollar industry in the next 6 – 7 years, considering the growth the sector has demonstrated. So, imagine the size of the opportunity! At present, there’s limited awareness about the prospective impact apart from investments in top 5 to 6 events like IPL, IFL , IBL, Pro Kabbadi League and so on.
There are a large number of sporting events happening in the state level, district level, municipal level which are equally important for local viewership, participation and brands can play an important role in grassroots level by investing and promoting these sports. We are creating a mechanism by which brands can be introduced to the concept of investing in sports and we are doing this in multiple levels.
Today, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a fairly expected norm of doing good to the society. Most organizations use their CSR budgets to participate in community activities that create positive impact. And as we are aware there’s impetus by the government to do it, and there is also a provision where sports is included in schedule 7 of the CSR Act. These incentives need support at the level of conceptualizing and implementation of sustainable interventions in sports and games. When taken up appropriately, this can be a huge investment opportunity for corporates who are passionate about promoting sports in India.
The CII initiative on sports
The initiative by CII National Committee on Sports is committed to promoting sports at the grassroots level. Under the leadership of the chairman, Mr. Sanjay Gupta, MD, Star India, we have taken up the above 5 agenda points on sports.
The basic objective of any sports activity should be to make people play. Once this happens, it will lead to several benefits for the individual, the team and society. And there would be a spillover effect of people choosing sports as a career and winning competitions at various levels. If the start is promising, the initiatives are sure to gain momentum across India. There are many initiatives happening in all levels – district, municipal, state, city – that need to be recognized along with the local heroes and local organizers.
There is a tremendous amount of sporting wave in the country today and sports is being embraced across all sections of the society as evident from the success of the various sporting leagues in the country. We have successful sporting leagues across all sports ranging from cricket, kabaddi, wresting to boxing. Now is the best time to make the necessary investments and create a mass movement on sports.