Sporting Ecosystem in India

India is an aspirational society and these growing aspirations among young and middle class means there is tremendous motivation, energy, will and belief to improve the sporting environment and performance. Through a policy framework, modernising sports governance structure, bringing in best global practices into Indian sports, etc. will ensure a change in the entire sporting ecosystem of India.

There is still skepticism and a lack of belief in the sporting structure and system. For industry leaders and corporate houses to invest in Indian sports, we need to ensure this perception is removed.

Hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2010 helped India to improve its infrastructure but similar kind of infrastructure must be available all across India, which is accessible to budding athletes and sportsmen. Since the organisation of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 the awareness and interest in Olympic sports is growing in India.  India hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017 will provide a big boost to football in India and the young generation will be tremendously motivated by it. The hosting of the Formula 1 and interest to host top class international sports events showcases India’s aptitude and changing attitude towards sport. Cricket is the undisputed leader at present and India’s contribution to world cricket is massive; 80% of the world cricket revenue comes from India. The Indian Premier League (IPL) alone contributed 1200 crore to India’s GDP. Opportunities for the sport are massive in India and with a population of 1.25 billion people and our current economic growth there is no reason why India can’t sustain 10-15 high end domestic sport properties like the IPL. A stable political situation is also favourable for the growth of sports in India. PEST and SWOT analysis all indicate a positive situation for the growth of sports in India in the coming years.

Future roles of Federations and Private institutions in sports  

Private institutions like Olympic Gold QuestJSW SportsTata sports etc. that are funding, assisting and providing support are already helping and pushing sports in a big way but India requires more and more such organisations to come forward. Private institutions can help sports financially in a huge way by investing in sports facilities, athlete development, setting up academies for the youth and also by sponsoring sports clubs and leagues in India.  Associations like FICCICII and ASSOCHAM are all trying to provide a boost to the sports industry in India and are pushing the government to provide an Industry status to sports in India. As sports grows in India and the sports industry becomes bigger the notion of sports management is slowly beginning to arrive. There many excellent startups in sports in India which is also a sign of change in Indian sports. The new wave is bringing in investment, expertise, new initiatives and professionalism into Indian sports from the grassroots to the elite level. Sports federations have a massive task ahead to restructure themselves and adopt a modern transparent governance structure and have a strategic approach as this will ensure that India realises its sporting potential.

 2% net profit of Indian companies going into mandatory CSR is also an opportunity for sports to take advantage but for that to attract, sports requires to adopt modern and transparent structure in India.

Big corporates from India with a multi-billion turnover will eventually support the development of sports in the country as transparency and governance improves in sports. A  few MNC’s are already doing it but their contribution and support will significantly go up once there is a change in policy, structure and better transparency in the whole system.


India should bid to host the Olympics either in 2032 or 2036  Hosting means targeting to win considerable number of medals and to win a higher number of medals India needs to have a strategic vision and plan and it is only possible in the long term, with the involvement of all the stakeholders. No doubt that Olympic medal tallies are going up for India but it is still an insignificant number considering the economic and demographic dividends India has got.  But keeping a target is only one part of the job; these plans have to be implemented correctly and most importantly on time. We have to start by developing our system right from the grassroots to the professional leagues. Sports infrastructure and facilities have to be improved and built. There should be investment to sustain and take care of the athletes in terms of their food, practice sessions and injuries. Universities are also the hub and centers for the development and promotion of sports in any country. They can act as talent pools for the national teams and clubs and also at the same time provide their sports facilities to the national teams and clubs to train. Independent players representing the country could also practice in the universities or colleges. Efficiently utilising the sporting facilities in educational institutions like these will immensely benefit both the country and the institution. India should target to be a sporting power by 2032 and it is an achievable plan and dream.

By Shaji Prabhakaran

Football Consultant| Sports Expert| President Football Delhi (FA)| Author| Ex-FIFA/AIFF| Consultant AFC, FIFA, ICC| CIES| Development| Management|

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