By, Mr. Ram Narayanan,
Corporate Global Strategic leader
Sports ecosystems comprise different dimensions or segments that go into establishing and developing a sport and there are various stakeholders in each segment. The evolution of a sports ecosystem may be evaluated by the extent of interaction and awareness among stakeholders, within and across various segments. The levels of transparency and professionalism of the system, coupled with the growing awareness of all stakeholders, decide the extent of sports ecosystem evolution. Sports infrastructure plays a crucial role in achieving excellence in the global arena of sports. It not only helps in producing sportspersons of international repute but also encourages the young population of a country to participate in sporting activities to create a culturing of sports. In India, the standard of sports infrastructure is not at a satisfactory level for several reasons. The lack of infrastructural facilities is one of the major constraints in the process of development of sports in India.
The state governments allocate funds for the development of sports and sports infrastructure as per their priority. There is no comprehensive approach to the development of sports infrastructure uniformly throughout the country. The non-availability of land for building sports infrastructure is another major obstacle. Moreover, not much initiative has been observed until now in promoting sports-specific infrastructure by adopting the PPP model to ensure the sustainability of these facilities. Besides, the overall sports budget for 2019-2020 was increased from INR. 2,002.72 crore (2018-2019) to INR. 2,216.92 crore. The significant gainers in the interim sports budget are SAI, the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) and the corpus meant for giving incentives to sportspersons.
- Sports HUB Development by private stakeholders in all States and Districts of India;
- The HUB development in the form of adding roads and increasing accessibility will increase the market value in the development and surrounding areas.
- Value of Sports HUB to India – including the value of economic, social and health benefits associated with such facilities;
- Sports HUB offers huge employment opportunities and the economy, and it is a critical requirement for livable cities and neighborhoods.
Dr. P. Sekhar has brought the novel concept Secured Governance that compliments the present PPP developmental model by ensuring balanced participation of the private and public sector taking advantage of value and valuation of infrastructure thereby yielding higher returns. This valuation of infrastructure, which grows many folds need to be shared by the society and by the Government to support infrastructure development, ensuring balanced growth. Today we find the valuation due to infrastructure growth is not channelized towards infrastructure development and results in inequalities. Secured Governance aims at addressing this issue also.
Secured Governance presents a developmental model for sports schools whereby they can take advantage of the extra FSI provided to them in addition to the value and valuation of the infrastructure to yield higher returns. This valuation of infrastructure, which grows many folds, will support infrastructure development, ensuring balanced growth.
Presently Indians are looking forward to a great performance in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and an improvement over the last Rio Olympics where India`s medal tally had gone down. Except for Sakshi, Sindhu and Dipa Karmakar, the Rio games were a forgetful one and as usual, there was a big round of analysis for the failure which to a large extent was forgotten after a few days. The topics of discussions were wrestlers from Haryana, failure of the shooters, Sindhu and her coach Gopi, Dipa`s success despite no support from system, more officials traveling on junkets, most athletes not even coming close to their personal bests, the Indian sports minister`s entourage, the team doctor who doesn’t know sports medicine, etc. – same old story of a few pockets of excellence in a pall of official apathy.
Another point of discussion was the money spent by leading sporting nations with Great Britain spending close to US$500mn as compared to US$100mn by India which has been touted as one of the major reasons for India`s dismal performance. Probably so but not convincing. An eminent writer in his weekly article in TOI on 21st Aug`16 has written how most of this money gets used up in administrative and official expenses and hence very less amount actually on athletes’ preparation.
Time for a Change in Ecosystem
A country like India has a far lower per capita GDP as compared to Britain and hence we cannot say that only spending money will generate results. It`s time to rework the ecosystem surrounding sports in India, the responsibility for which must be shared by all – people of India and other stakeholders- rather than only the government institutions. It’s time that we stop depending on the government and official support to build up a sporting system in India. As with the IT industry in India, minimal and lesser government roles and more private sector and retail participation will ensure better results. The BCCI is a successful sporting organization as it is not run by the government. Bringing a big element of economics in the sports system will generate results and the funding can come from all sources and not only the government. The US sports system is a perfect example of a balance of government support, institutional support and people`s participation.
A great sporting ecosystem will need to encompass and the effective interplay of:
- Government support,
- People participation,
- Private/corporate sector involvement
No point in us all sitting in the comforts of our living room and blaming the Indian athletes. The first thing that we all can do is get our kids to go out of the houses and play outside which will ensure a feel and love for sports amongst the kids. Secondly, let’s encourage our children to participate in sporting events and enroll in sports either at school or in sports academies. The USA has many leagues because of which many people take up sports as a career. In the last few years, many sporting leagues have come up in India which offers career and outlets to many budding sportspersons. The people should also encourage sports by watching sports games at stadiums. Watching a game live can be a source of entertainment like watching a movie or going to a restaurant as turnout at stadiums generates revenues for the organizers and hence more funding. People adopting sports and outdoor activities as a way of life is very key to building up a sporting culture in our country.
Perhaps the most critical part of building a successful ecosystem is the private sector. If the government is unable to fund on its own, the financial needs for sports, then a successful public-private association can bridge the gap. Private sector participation can ensure funds and also importantly ensure that funds are used effectively with much wastage. The mushrooming of many leagues in India like the IPL, ISL, Kabaddi league, etc. has been due to the sponsorship and patronization by the corporates like Vivo, etc. Private sector need also play other important roles in the following routes:
- Sponsoring school level sports – school level is where raw talent can be spotted early and nurtured at an early age.
- Sponsoring sports academies – Sports academies need money to build and operate. P. Gopichand, Sindhu and Saina`s coach, mortgaged his house to fund his badminton academy in Hyderabad but how many coaches and ex- sportsmen can afford to do so?
Another important role can be played by banks and funding organizations like PEs. Banks and PE`s can look at funding sports as an industry and look at sponsoring sports academies run by ex-sportsmen and professional coaches.
As we have seen in the past few years, great sporting talent comes from B and below-grade cities as well as rural areas. Sports academies are very essential in these places as well and hence financial support is highly required in these areas and not only in main cities and metros.
The much-riled government has proved that it is an abject failure in running the sports system in the country. It’s time that even in sports India moves from the “License Raj” to the “free economy” where the government plays a supporting and a facilitator`s role. The government needs to do the following actions:
- Bring in a proper Sports bill, passed in Parliament, which will bring in rules and regulations in all sports associations. Most of the Sports associations are run like personal fiefdoms, by politicians and connected people, with little interest in sports. The government should ensure the involvement of ex-sportsmen in running sports organizations.
- As a part of community development, city layouts should have adequate parks and playgrounds for children to play.
- Sports as a compulsory subject in all schools. Tough to implement but needs to be done.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a team to look at sports and Olympics preparation. It should have a mix of sportsmen, managers, and some well-intentioned politicians rather than allow politicians to use it as a junket.
Private sector contribution to sports infrastructure is minimal and is limited to PPPs for sports infrastructure development and operation. Some non-profit efforts towards stadia development have also been witnessed, but they are limited in number. The more rapid development of sports HUB has resulted in the density of residential buildings in an area, the more populated the population living in the area, which in turn allows a change in the market value. The MultiSports HUB will be home to several self-sustainable sports clubs/organizations with an ethos of good inter-club relations, volunteering, and genuine community engagement and leadership. This will be a base where a range of local sports clubs can work together and a social environment that engages members of the wider community in India and the other countries. Overall the HUB will provide improved access for local people and sports clubs to enhance our Sports Eco System. The Sports HUB will be established in remote rural areas to harvest talent in various sports in India.
There is also significant potential to promote local businesses in the area and enhance living standards. The aim would be to provide a variety of high-quality sports training accessible from the local area and has a significant positive impact on the national economy.
For India to win more medals in events like Olympics we need a radical change in the pattern of funding. Increasing private sector and finance sector participation focused NGO efforts like that of Gold Quest and people`s participation will only help and not a system is driven only by crony politicians as it is now.