Utthan – National Seminar for Development of University in India I was recently invited by Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE) for their inaugural sports summit, Utthan, at Vigyan Bhavan. The summit aimed at exploring the development of university sport in India. I was invited to present my views on the role of federations in the same. A number of experts such as Dr. Dilip Kumar Dureha( Vice Chancellor, LNIPE) Rajiv Yadav(Secretary, Dept. of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs) and Rana Kapoor (MD, & CEO Yes Bank) pointed out the desperate need of sports development in the country be it infrastructure, administration or structure.
“I expect that the seminar will open new horizons and help in strengthening the future sports policies in higher education” - Mr Rajiv Yadav
“Education sector needs to take an active participation in partnership with private and government organization for sports to carve a transformational path for students” - Dr D.K Dureha
“Developing sporting talent capable of competing internationally requires early identification and nurturing, and robust infrastructure. Public Private Partnerships (PPP) is a one point solution, where the private sectors inputs towards technical expertise and pumping in investments coupled with policy support from the government would be a key driver” - Mr Rana KapoorI examined the current situation and growth prospects for sports at the university level, and looked at providing a solution to the problems at hand. We have a young population, one which consumes entertainment and sports (primarily cricket at present) at a healthy growth rate. Since 2008, we have seen a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 14% in the sports advertising industry taking it to INR 41 billion. Broadcasting rights, Sponsorship and Franchise valuation in different sports has seen a rapid growth in that period. We now have franchise based national leagues in Cricket, Football, Kabaddi, Badminton, Hockey, Wrestling and Basketball. A Culture in Sport University sports has a long way to go in India. We have to understand compared to Europe and the USA, who have a rich culture for various sports at that level, India lags behind with little to no culture and support apart from cricket. Secondly, University sports in the U.S.A, for example, is at a very professional level whereby athletes or players in colleges manage to get sponsorships and deals by big sports companies like Nike or Adidas even before they sign for a professional club in their respective sport. In India, we disregard sports as a distraction from our ‘career path’, which is usually decided by our parents. It is very important to understand how sports plays an important role in a child’s life. Sports is a necessity which should be running parallel along with education for a child as it will help him/her learn a lot and teach him or her discipline in life. A lack of a structure inclusive sports curriculum leads to obesity and poor health. 39% of children today show poor BMI (Body Mass Index) numbers, and 20% show signs of obesity. 50% have poor body strength and flexibility. In fact only 16% students between 10 and 16 met the minimum recommended standards of fitness. (Source: Edusports survey) Creating a Sports Structure A national federation or local sports association can do a lot by coordinating with universities on their sports structure but in my opinion, this has been disregarded and isn’t part of any focused plan for the future. Vice versa, are the universities working with the federation? No. Universities might be having a good team or an excellent athlete but all of them work in isolation. We do not need to copy the sports structures in the U.S, Canada or U.K; we need to have our own sports structure in place in India because we are very different from those countries. We need to have a paradigm shift in the way we think about sports and plan it. International competitions and the role of Universities This is an Olympic year and yet again, we seemed poised to underwhelm. Rather than pointing fingers at each other we have to address the problem and realize exactly what is required to enhance the sports structure in the country. Ministry of Youth Affairs and sports and UGC who are the policy makers need to plan our future in sports carefully. For different sports we need to have a strategic plan so that by 2030 we will be working on the lines of this system. We need to set ourselves hard targets and develop centers of excellence for sport in the country.