In India, there has been a raging debate in society about the importance of both academic education and sporting activities. In a population of 1.3 billion, the general impetus placed on children and students by their parents is academic excellence and less on sporting prowess. This might probably explain why a nation with such a vast population has struggled in major tournaments like the Olympics. However, former India skipper and legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar has pointed out three factors that should create a positive environment for sports and also create a mindset where future champions evolve.
"I think India's biggest plus is its population. It should not be difficult to find champions. I am not necessarily saying gold medalists. The moment sport becomes a career option, theneverybody, the child, the parents they all get involved in that. Then schools can come in and help by making sports part of their curriculum. I think then we have a win-win situation," Gavaskar said during a panel discussion on 'Making sports in India', jointly organised by the Ashwini Sports Foundation and the Embassy Group.
Aparna Popat, former Badminton player who achieved some success on the global stage, said the mindset was not to prepare future athletes purely from the point of winning medals. Popat reasoned that training an individual in the right way for sports can contribute to the holistic growth of society at large.
Citing the example of the Rio Olympics-2016, she said 11,200 athletes from over 200 nations had participated, but only 366 medals were distributed. "It can give health, it can help the economy, it can help in the social structure of the nation and as well as the national pride. All that is required is a synergy, collaboration and purpose," Popat said while also stressing on the need for more Corporate Social Responsibility.
Former sprinter Ashwini Nachappa, who moderated the discussion, gave a presentation on the initiatives by the Ashwini Sports Foundation in Kodagu. Endorsing her view, Embassy Group chairman Jitu Virwani, founder of the Equestian Academy, said channelising the CSR mandates of corporates towards sports would bring in a conducive atmosphere for sports in the country. The other panelists were Volvo India president and Managing Director Kamal Bali and sports journalist Suresh Menon.