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Looking Back At Sports In India

2017 has been one of the greatest years for sports in India. In the past couple of years, we have seen that we are looking beyond cricket for sports

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Cricket led the way with the IPL and on its 10th anniversary more sports are adopting the league model. The football league has come into its own in 2017, and has done much to encourage newer talent and promote the sport at various levels. Now, boxing, badminton, poker, pool, and kabaddi are each trying to emulate what cricket had done successfully but importantly avoiding errors made during the nascent years to ensure long-term stability and growth within their individual sport and industry.

Post Abhinav Bindra's Sport Task Force report for implementation of new schemes within sport in India, we also learned that the NSC (National Shooting Championship) has 5000 participants. (This number was only a few hundred a couple of years ago).

The want and need for "Pro" or "Super" League(s) may come with large funding and investment, household name stars at very large price tags, an attraction for a growing television based audience, and broadcast deals, which is a trend not seen in sport within the landscape of this country before.

However, to maintain sustainability for the growth of the sport within the Indian market, we need to have athletes being offered training, sports science, coaching and development throughout the year which is currently not being implemented unless they are part of a certain team or league/tier structure, which should not be the case for India's long-term goals within sport. With a short term lucrative league structure in sport, can a broader question as to why India has not produced many Olympic medalists in recent years and what influencers need to change, given our population, for 2020, 2024, and longer, be asked?

One of the primary highlights for 2017, for me, was the Under-17 Football World Cup, which India hosted for the first time in our history. This really helped bring the sport into the limelight, not merely for the players but also for the various career options associated with the sport. A sport isn't made merely of players. There are coaches, physiotherapists, and a whole universe that supports them to be successful, and each of these are potential career options for the lovers of that sport.

Post the Under-17 tournament, it was evident that we are years behind any of the other teams in terms of physical, tactical, and technical prowess. The Indian team did not underperform because large scaled public and media opinion was that "India performed as expected".  Should a host nation in any tournament let alone a World Cup be expected to underperform under a technically very savvy coach and mentor in Luis Matos? This is an issue that needs to be scrutinized at every age specific level within the width and depth of the country. Lengths of a season, Off Season, Player Nutrition, and Education are just some of an amalgamation of metrics that need to come together cohesively.

I hope that there will be more attention on sports management as a specific education vertical in 2018. The rise of professional or super leagues, which last a few months, has brought about a significant growth in Ground Sponsorship, Team Sponsorships, Athlete endorsements, and Media spends, and overall sports sponsorship growth has increased by double digits, year on year. These are indicators that sports on a macro level is headed in the right direction.

As there is definitely an upward trend in most factors influencing sport in 2017, qualitatively and quantitatively, it would be astute to sit back and analyze where we want to head as a nation within each sport, and work towards a global benchmark and not our own as it could be detrimental for the future athlete. India with its resources and large amounts of funding in the sports industry, which is growing exponentially, has everything in place to make us a global long-term sports superpower.

I hope that 2018 sees the same upward swing and more focus towards all aspects of sports development.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
sports IPL Matches cricket football Year End 2017

Sharan Parikh

The author is Director at South United Football Club & Pyramid Sports

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