India’s alliance with cricket needs no introduction, but while the sport, more like that of a religion in the country continues to boost the growth of the Indian sports sector, other sports are adding rich diversity to the industry. Following the city-based franchise model which has done miracles for the Indian Premier League, sports such as Hockey, Football, Kabaddi, Tennis and Badminton are already acting like a magnet for new audiences and fans to the sport, opening commercial propositions for sponsors and satisfying the thirst of a country eager for live entertainment content.
While many of the sports leagues, including the IPL, bring in foreign stars to compete, but for the next crop of world-class talent in Indian sports industry will come when the country starts to create more of its own star performers, to become a truly great sporting nation like a England, US or Australia, there is some space to catch-up. People have to be patient because it will happen in time and the moment that happens the growth will happen very quickly. But this is where a major problem start for India.
Every time an Indian wins a tournament or a medal, the whole country goes berserk. For once, the unknowns or the hidden gems takes the spot. Columns and News packages filled with their stories and tributes. Rewind to a week before the victory and not a single one of them would have known about the player’s involvement in the tournament or even the name of the tournament for that instance. The coverage and interviews only starts when the player reaches the penultimate stages of the tournament. In some cases, even that goes missing. How many Indians actually followed PV Sindhu’s participation at the Badminton World Championships before her bronze? Only a handful may have tracked Saina Nehwal’s movement in the tournament, but that’s as far as it gets.
How many would know about Vikas Gowda’s laudable 7h place finish at the International Association of Athletics Federation World Championships? How many would know about the Indians taking part in the IAAF World Championships? How many would know about Aanchal Thakur before she won the bronze medal in skiing at the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup and created history? Measure the answers to these questions with a query about Usain Bolt’s latest wins.
This is one of the biggest problems killing sports and it’s growth in India. The spotlight on sportsperson hardly lasts a few days or a week at max and after the whole nation is spent boasting and bragging about national pride and glory, etc, the athletes are soon abandoned or forgotten. Glorifying them only when they bring a medal or trophy to the country, bragging about their achievements as though it were our own, and then leaving them in the dumps when they go south needs to stop. This falsity may help draw a rosy picture for sportsperson in the short-term, but will do nothing gainful beneficial in the long-term.
There are several reasons that in spite of the abundance of talent and potential in India, Indians fail to succeed as much as they should in Sports.
There are many reasons that in spite of huge chunk of Talent and potential in India, Indians fail to flourish as much as they should in sports. Except Cricketers, Athletes in our country are very poorly paid and as Professional Athletes have a limited career which often gets cut short due to injury so, very few people choose sports as Career. Families want a financially remunerative career for their kids so they demoralize their kids to go with Sports professionally and keep it just as a hobby.
One of the main reasons for poor performance of Indian Athletes in International Sport Events when compared to other countries is that India’s Sports Infrastructure is extremely destitute.
The Sports Authority of India is accountable for Sports Infrastructure in India. Sportsperson frequently complain of insufficient and outdated Sports equipment in the training centers. It takes time for our athletes to get accustomed to modern equipment in International tournaments as they have practiced on old, rusty equipment at home. Problem of equipment if far-fetched as they often fail to provide basic facilities like beds and bathrooms and travel vehicles.
Moreover, the training centers are in cities which are generally far away from home for most athletes. There is no basic grassroots program to nurture potential athletes at a young age from high schools or colleges. According to the All India School Education Survey, half of the primary Schools in many states of India don’t even have playgrounds. Whereas, China has constructed 850,000 gyms and 3000 specialized Sports facilities throughout the country so that kids and youngsters can get an edge of having Sports facilities near their home.
Another major problem is coaching and mentoring the young talents. Our coaches fail to provide detailed technical nuances which makes all the difference. It would be wise to get foreign Coaches where we lack World-Class coaching expertise and train the Indian coaches with better techniques and technology at the same time.
When we talk about India’s biggest in Sports Corruption has pierced immensely in the system and has corrupted it at every level which makes it massively tough for amateurs to look at this as a career. Nepotism and Favoritism is unchecked. There are more politicians in the selection committees than retired sports persons. The government is allotting more than 1000 crores per year for Sports development since quite a few years now but we are yet to see its best use.
There are reports of corruption even in an athlete’s Food Budget. It has been complained that food provided for athletes is deficient and of poor quality. How can athletes attain physical strength of International standards without hygienic and proper nutrition??
Cricket is mostly made responsible for each and everything that is wrong with other Sports in India. We often hear that India only admires and loves Cricket. Cricket is widely successful in India because it is well-funded and well-managed. Cricketers are nurtured by BCCI from a very young age with Under-14, under-17 like tournaments and they get world-class facilities for training with good nutrition and even contracts with decent stipends from a very young age.
In spite of all these problems our athletes driven by their passion manage to qualify in the Olympics and win medals in other International Cups and Tournaments. That itself is a huge achievement. But level of competition in the Olympics and other International tournament is on a whole different level than what our athletes are trained for. So let’s think again before blaming our athletes when they can’t win as many medals as USA or China.