Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar batted for making sports affordable, part of school curriculum and a career option to create a positive atmosphere for sports in the country.
“I think India’s biggest plus is its population. It should not be difficult to find champions. I am not necessarily saying gold medallists,” said Gavaskar and added that there are three things essential to make sports affordable.
1) Playing sports should be affordable.
2) It should be part of the school curriculum, where the sportsperson gets some allowances or incentives in academics as well.
3) Make sports a serious career option.
Gavaskar was speaking during a panel discussion on ‘Making Sports in India’, jointly organised by the Ashwini Sports Foundation and the Embassy Group.
“The moment sport becomes a career option, then everybody, 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 pointed out.
He said making sports a career option would attract more youngsters to take to such activities and parents too would not stop their children from taking to it.
Gavaskar said cricket was flourishing in India because the game has emerged as a career option.
“We don’t necessarily have to play in the IPL, don’t necessarily have to be an international player.
Today you play Ranji Trophy cricket, you can still make a good career. You make more money than you would be working for a corporate or working for the airlines or the Railways or working for a government company, Gavaskar said.
Former badminton player Aparna Popat said sports should not be seen from the dimension of winning medals. 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.
On promoting sports in India, Aparna opined that if governance and funding were put together efficiently and effectively, sports can give a lot more. “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.”
Popat underlined the need for more CSR funding in sports. “All that is required is a synergy, collaboration and purpose,” she added.
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 Equestrian Academy, said channelising the CSR mandates of corporates towards sports would bring in a conducive atmosphere for sports in the country.
The other panellists were Volvo India president and Managing Director Kamal Bali and sports journalist Suresh Menon