Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time to Introspect

Sports in India is a 1500 crore industry... of which 1499 crores goes to cricket. It is a sad statistic but true. We have various sport management groups cropping up all over the country to try their hand in managing athletes but finding these athletes is turning out to be a tall task. The truth is there are none..... Why?
Well a not so anonymous reader of my blog has been commenting on how the domestic circuits in all sports need to be revamped with more people playing to be able to find eventual champions. I couldn't agree with that more. The truth is to be able to get thousands of people playing at all levels and have a competitive domestic circuit is the only way to "breed" future champs.
The last year has given me the opportunity to delve into the various sports in India and from what i have seen the sports we are the closest to an Olympic medal are Archery, Shooting and Boxing. Incidentally, these are also the sports where the domestic circuit is the strongest. Our archers come from below the poverty line and so all their major competitions are national ones. The Archery Association has done a phenomenal job in keeping its circuit of National ranking and prize money tournaments hence there is a lot of depth. Other than Korea we are the only nation who have full time archers and it is now just a matter of fine tuning these athletes to be able to compete at the international stage.
Boxing is similar since most of the pugilists are from rural backgrounds. Haryana has done a great job garnering and nurturing talent and there are around 2000 boxers coming out of that state alone. They to function on a strong domestic schedule and the best boxers are constantly participating in different events around the country.
The shooters also participate in a lot of domestic events, that is a bit skewed because they are forced to participate since only the top 20 shooters can acquire a gun licence. This is a good ploy which forces internal competition which is essential before the kids can compete internationally.
I think all associations should take a look and really set up a great domestic circuit before bidding to host various international tournaments. It is great to host these big time events but not at the cost of national tournaments.
It is the only way we will be able to consistently churn out winners and the Mittal Champions Trust is going to look to support long term sustainable circuits that will be able to eventually sustain themselves.


Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,

Thanks for that!!!!!!!!!!!

Well now that we are arriving at a consensus on robustness of domestic level competiton ..... what should be our way forward.......

I would love to see more and more young children taking up sports as a way of life..... imagine billions of INDIAN children taking to sports........ God,I wouldn't even want to die to see that day.......

You can make a difference the issue that you need to address is to bring together people who think alike........ if you read the history no revolution... agricultural, industrial, information tech didn't happen because they had to happen (we in India however, think otherwise)these were made to happen by some people who put thier hearts and soul behined it.

You will find many people who think alike, all that you need to do is to identify them and synergise the efforts........I am sure some day we shall be a force to reckon with in the sporting arena......

By the way the other day, I was listening to Victor Banerjee interview Nandan Nilkeni, imagine what seven people who had the vision and courage to achive what they belived was the right way have achieved, and I am sure they have miles to go before their journey comes anywhere near the end.....

And Manisha, if the Mittal Trust can help encouraging domestic competiton, the money would have been well spent and much more achieved......... try it and I am sure 2020 Olympics (2008,2012 & 2016 are already over as far as I am concerned), where ever they are, will surely have many many Indians on the Podium...... and then you would have created a sporting revolution in this country........and the billions of Indians will remember you for that.........

Manisha Malhotra said...

i will throw the question out to you as to how we can go forward. I have already started by giving associations some money towards national tournaments... this will run parallel to the already existing scheme of grooming different athletes since i am not going to give that up. Any other suggestions will be welcome.

Anonymous said...

Dear Manisha,

I will definately forward my views...or is it a nice ploy to figure out my identity!!!!!!!!!!

will check out the answer on the blog before we move forward......

Manisha Malhotra said...

it is not a ploy i would like suggestions from anyone since my aim is to help sport... keep yourself anonymous... i already know who you are... but this way it keeps the suspense on... it will also make it more challenging for you to write in a way to keep us all guessing...

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,
Let the suspense going...... as I am very sure that you have a wrong person...anyways coming down to the task at hand.

The current Olympic Games programme includes 35 sports and nearly 400 events. I am listing below the sports which are presently recognised alongwith my perceptions on possibilities of a medal in 2020 (given the status as of date).

Aquatics - No chance
Archery - Yes, possibility exists.
Athletics - No chance.
Badminton - No chance.
Baseball - No chance.
Basketball - No chance
Boxing - Yes , possibility exists.
Canoe / kayak - No chance.
Cycling - No chance
Equestrian - Remote possibility.
Fencing - No chance.
Football - No chance
Gymnastics - No chance
Handball - No chance
Hockey - Possibility exists.
Judo - No chance
Modern Pentathlon - No chance
Rowing - No chance
Sailing - Possibility exists.
Shooting - Yes
Softball - No chance.
Table Tennis - No chance
Taekwondo - No chance
Tennis - Possibility exists.
Triathlon - No chance.
Volleyball - No chance
Weightlifting - Possibility exists
Wrestling - Possibility exists.

From the above you would notice, that we are definite in Shooting from 2008 onwards (provided we keep our focus and policies in place)and possibility exists in 8 other disciplines.

Hockey presently is poorly governed and Weightlifting and Wrestling athletes tainted by dope, so I will not bet on these for the time being.

That leaves us with Archery, Boxing, Equestrian, Sailing and Tennis. The governance of these federations is in relatively good hands. Amongst these sports itself they offer qualification / medals to approx 40 events.

Archery – Small base (not more than 200 athletes) in the country but standards are high which compensate the small base. Present facilities are adequate to meet the base. Not expensive. If you improve the facilities and encourage more to take up this sport and increase the competitive base to approx 2000 in domestic circuit – probably in 4 years from now you attain a fairly high standard of competency. In eighth year your athletes would be closer to the Olympic Podium and in the 12th year a definite medal winner. You need to introduce at least 400 children to this sport every year for the next 4 years. Can be done as cost factor is not too high. Concentrate efforts to identify talent in Jharkhand, Bihar, MP and North East ( most suited due height, weight and body shape). Average age of top athletes today is 20 -21, this should be brought down to 17 by the end of 4th year.

Boxing – Fairly large base, however average age of the top boxers is 26-27 years , which needs to be lowered to 19 -20 in the next 4 years. Not expensive. Identify talent from NE Haryana and Punjab (most suitable due to height weight and body shape) and groom them for the future for the next 4 years. Span out to other areas later.

Equestrian - Very small base, dominated by armed forces. Expensive and thus maybe best left to the armed forces or the super rich.

Sailing – Very small base only 15 -20 competitive sailors. Dominated by the armed forces, Average age of top sailors 35 -40. Not expensive. Identify youngsters along coastline; promote activity where sea and wind conditions akin to most European locations. If you improve competition levels and skills, in 4 years you are near qualification, 8th year closer to the podium and in 12th year a definate medal.Average age needs to be brought down to 20-21 in next 4 years and susequently to 18-19 by the 8th year. Increase base to approx 2000 in the next 4 years. Introduce at least 400 people to this sport every year for the next 4 years.

Tennis – Very small base. Expensive, but icons exists and hence luring youngsters is easy. Top players aging and fresh blood needs to be introduced. Increase base to approx 2000 competitors in the next 4 years.

Let me know if I am in sync with the Mittal Trust or not.......

your's truly,


Manisha Malhotra said...

hey anonymous... i think you are somewhat right... but not a 100% If you want to take into account 2020 then i think the sports you have shown that we have a chance in is pessimistic...
Firstly let me tell you that Jharkhand alone has close to 1500 archers...then there are states like Manipur, Nagaland etc that have lots of archers too so i think you research is a bit off... anywya if you want to do 2020 you can start with athletes who are the ages of 8-11 depending on sport and really mould them into whatever you want... it is wrong to rule out athletics because it is a myth that indians are bad athletes, the truth is there are several NRI indians who have great body structure and are on national teams. The thing is they need to be groomed wiht great diet and proper fitness regimens...
Anyway let me go firstly on the sports you think we have a "possibility"-
1)Archery- we have a good chance so agree there.
2)Boxing- also good chance
3)Equestrian- NO CHANCE even in 2050 because we don't have good horses here and also no breeding system to bring in some good blood. The cost of a world class horse is $2.3 million so i don't think we are going to be shelling out that kind of money
4)Hockey- We are not even going to qualify so i would again say NO CHANCE. Unless Mr. Gill is planning to have fair selections and not with political motives and our youngsters be sent abroad to be groomed on the astroturf.
5)Sailing- NO CHANCE since they again do their selections based on contacts and no broadbasing of the sport even remotely occurs. Plus the quality of technology and equipment available to our foreigners if far superior. There is no sailing culture in the country. Rowing has a better chance.
6)Tennis- Yes good chance there is huge money coming in to develop tennis. Can't divulge but the press conf is for the 23rd of this month so you will know by then.
7)Weightlifting & Wrestling- No idea. Don't want to go near them wiht a ten foot pole. If the association decides to invest in some good dope then i guess we have a chance.

I know for sure who you are but lets keep this anonymous thing going...

Anonymous said...

Dear Manisha,

Well thanks for the disagreement in agreement. Yes I do sound pessimistic but that is given the effort that is going on today... maybe a change to optimism will be in order if we see some new and fruit bearing initiatives.

We shall keep the guessing game going as I am now 100% sure that you have the wrong one (atleast here)...........

Manisha Malhotra said...

well atleast i am trying. I think you should set up an initiative that will get your vision in place. I think it is easy to sit down and be an arm chair critic. That path neither gets you here no there...I should have just sat back and criticised you association guys and done nothing. I am not looking for the approval of people who are doing nothing themselves, instead care about others like me who are willing to put things on the line and make an effort.

Anonymous said...

Dear Manisha,

Well finally reading your comments does confirm to me that you have the wrong guy after all.Thank God for that(for I am not an arm chair critic.......).

And I do appreciate your efforts of moving and trying to move people to move towards sporting glory in India.

You will know of some of the issues that I deal with and the pushing around that I do in the coming months and thats a promise. And remember both of us have similiar goals to achieve.............whilst I prefer to do them from behined the shiled of annonymity .....you do it with a face.

bye and all the best.......