Rs 1 crore for football clubs qualifying for ISL: Meghalaya sports minister
Shillong, Sep 24 (Football News) Meghalaya's Sports Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh on Friday announced a cash award of Rs 1 crore for a local team qualifying for the Indian Super League.
The minister made the announcement at the official send-off ceremony of Ryntih Sports and Cultural Club, who are all set to participate in the I-League Qualifiers, which will take place in Bangalore from October 4-25.
Lamenting the fact that many football clubs from the state have not been able to sustain themselves over the years due to financial constraints, the minister said the lack of government support has aggravated the problem.
"I am honoured to announce cash incentives to football clubs of the state to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for those qualifying for 2nd Division I-League, Rs 40 lakh for those qualifying for I-League and Rs 1 crore for those qualifying for Indian Super League," Lyngdoh said, addressing the football lovers, mentors and a selected group of sports officials here.
He also informed that a tender amounting to Rs 34 crore has been floated for the upgradation of the JN Sports, Complex which will include replacing artificial with natural turf and upgradation of the overall facilities within the complex.
"An indoor multipurpose sports complex will also be constructed on the 5th ground costing about Rs 100 crore. The complex will house facilities like swimming pool, basketball, tennis courts and many other indoor games facilities," he said.
Besides football, the government is also dedicated to support disciplines like boxing, archery, athletics etc., which will go a long way in developing the sportspersons of the state, he said.
Also Read : Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters FC to return to Kochi for pre-season training
News Source : PTI
Trailblazer basketball player Satnam to try hand at pro-wrestling
New Delhi, Sep 24 (Basketball News) Basketball player Satnam Singh Bhamara, who became the first Indian to be drafted into an NBA team before being banned or doping, has decided to try his hand at wrestling by sealing a deal with a professional league in the USA.
The 25-year-old Singh, who created history when he was picked in the NBA draft by Dallas Mavericks in 2015, will begin his training to be a pro wrestler at the Atlanta-based Nightmare Factory, to compete in the All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Singh follows in the footsteps of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, who squared off alongside Jade Cargill in a mixed tag team match against Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet on "AEW: Dynamite" in March.
"While we've recently secured some of the hottest free agents on the planet, I’m also deeply committed to cultivating our own homegrown stars and the next generation of extraordinary professional wrestlers," Tony Khan, CEO, GM and Head of Creative of AEW, said in a media release.
"In addition to Satnam's commanding 7'3" stature, I was impressed with his high level of athleticism and charisma. He's an exciting addition to our roster, and I'm looking forward to our fans getting to know Satnam's personality and watching his development." Singh is currently serving a two-year ban by the National Anti-Doping Agency's (NADA) disciplinary panel for failing a dope test in 2019.
His suspension is due to end on November 19.
Also Read : Los Angeles Lakers vs Brooklyn Nets: The battle between two superteams
News Source : PTI
Paralympic stars Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot create history by winning the Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis
(Tennis news) History was created on Sunday when Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot won the U.S Open to conclude the most successful tennis campaign imaginable. Nobody in the history of wheelchair tennis had won the Golden Slam until yesterday and when it finally happened, it occurred not once but twice.
Having already won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and Paralympic gold medals, Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot won the U.S Open in dominant fashion to cement their historic accomplishment. World number 1 from Australia Dylan Alcott defeated Niels Vink of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the quad singles division while Dutch World Number 1 Diede de Groot defeated 2nd seed Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in the Women’s Singles Final.
Only Steffi Graff in 1988 has won all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. The accomplishment was not possible in wheelchair tennis until 2016, when Wimbledon was added for wheelchair tennis players. Alcott, who previously won a Paralympic gold medal in basketball in 2008 became the only male tennis player to win the Golden Slam.
In his acceptance speech, Alcott said “To all the sponsors, everybody that makes it happen, thank you for putting us on stadium courts, changing my life, changing Niels's life, but hopefully changing the lives of millions of people with disability around the world, that they can see themselves on the big stage doing what they love." He continued, "I used to hate myself so much. I hated my disability. I didn't even want to be here anymore. And I found tennis, and it changed and saved my life, and now I've become the only male ever in any form of tennis, I think, to win the Golden Slam, which is pretty cool."
Both Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot were honoured during the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Alcott poured a can of beer into his trophy and chugged it, much to the crowd's delight. "I just haven't done it in front of 20,000 people and 50 million watching. There was no chance I wasn't going to skull that beer on Arthur Ashe after I just won the Golden Slam.
"I saw I got a smile from Novak and Medvedev, action which was nice. I wouldn't want to be a beer in New York tonight, because you're going to get destroyed. That's for sure.''
Also read: Daniil Medvedev does the impossible against Novak Djokovic at the US Open final, Emma Raducanu captures first Grand Slam in style
Los Angeles Lakers vs Brooklyn Nets: The battle between two superteams
(Basketball news) As the new NBA season draws closer and the majority of the free agents found respective homes, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets emerged as the strongest teams without a shadow of a doubt. Even though last year's NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks and finalist Phoenix Suns remain relatively unchanged from last season, both teams don’t possess the historical talent that the Lakers and Nets have.
The Lakers last season got eliminated in the 1st round of the playoff series by the Phoenix Suns but this season Rob Pelinka (General Manager) made sure that the same thing isn't repeated. At the end of last season, Lakers managed to pull off a blockbuster trade where they managed to get 9 times NBA all star and 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. With Lebron James and Anthony Davis already in the team, adding Westbrook makes them the team to beat in the Western Conference. With the Lakers adding former NBA all stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo in free agency their roster looks more dangerous than before.
The Brooklyn Nets last season pulled off the trade of the decade by getting James Harden from Houston Rockets, adding to a roster which already contained Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Last season, according to all experts, the Nets should have the NBA Championship but were beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference final, although injuries hampered the squad which eventually led to their downfall last season. This season Steve Nash (Coach of Nets) will be hoping that his stars remain fit as they have already added former all stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Milsap to an already staked roster.
With both teams' ambition of winning a NBA championship last year not being fulfilled, the teams will be even more hungry to reach the NBA final this season. The Los Angeles Lakers have got back the championship core which won the NBA 2 years ago but the key advantage that the Lakers have over the Nets is the championship experience they have in their roster. On the other hand, the Nets have arguably the best trio in American sports history as on any given day James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Iriving can beat any team just based on their talent. As the fans eagerly wait for the start of the new season the NBA finals looks destined to be between these two teams unless and until injuries hamper them both. This is a site that not only the basketball fans want to watch but the sports fans in general will also tune in.
Also read: Virtual development program launched by NBA Academy for top female prospects from outside the US
The Los Angeles Roster:
Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Trevor Ariza, Rajon Rondo,Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, Russell Westbrook, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Davis, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker.
The Brooklyn Nets Roster:
Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Nic Claxton , Bruce Brown, Cam Thomas, James Johnson, DeAndre Bembry, Jevon Carter, Day’Ron Sharpe.
India aims to become the Fantasy Sports Hub of the world with Telangana implementing model regulations
(Fantasy Sports News) The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) concluded its fourth edition of GamePlan yesterday where we witnessed the launch of ‘Online Fantasy Sports: Creating a Virtuous Cycle of Sports Development’ an industry report by Deloitte and FIFS. One of the most notable keynotes was by Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT), Government of Telangana, who spoke about the present scenario around fantasy sports being “a bit muddled and complicated.” He spoke about the state government bringing new norms to make it a role model for other states.
Speaking about the future of OFS, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan said “We are aware of the regulatory issues which are there in the world of fantasy sports. I know that there are court judgments, there are different orders, and the scenario is a bit muddied and complicated at this point in time. I admit that there has been a push back in Telangana in the past about some forms of games, particularly games of skill, fantasy sports, etc. that have to be encouraged. I have taken the responsibility to introduce a very simple and industry-friendly piece of regulation in place of what already exists. I have consulted everyone who is involved in this domain, including representatives from the FIFS.” He also added, “I can assure you that we will see a piece of regulation where not only self-regulation, but development will be encouraged. We need to remain patient with what comes up from Telangana. I am very confident that this will be some kind of a role model for all other states also.”
Mr. Amrit Mathur, FIFS Spokesperson (Member of Fantasy Sports Regulatory Authority), said, “Fantasy sports have emerged strongly in the last few years, so much so that it has contributed to the growth of the overall sports ecosystem of our nation. OFS engages fans with real-life sports such as cricket, volleyball, football, basketball, kabaddi, etc. by providing a platform to create their own virtual teams containing counterparts of real-life players from both the teams participating in an upcoming officially sanctioned match. This is the key distinguisher for Fantasy Sports from online gaming.” He further added, “We want to build a system of continuous and constructive engagement with all the state governments, which is an ongoing dynamic exercise. We’ve been receiving tremendous support from them to be able to execute this.”
The evolving legal landscape of Online Fantasy Sports saw a focused discussion at the last session of the event revolving around the Supreme Court’s judgement, reaffirming the legality of the fantasy sports format as offered by Dream11 basis the FIFS Charter, and upheld the judgement passed by Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court. This judgement has played an instrumental role in legitimizing the industry and reducing ambiguity. When the Public Gambling Act of 1867 was adopted by most states, it was an era of virtually no technology and Mr. Gopal Jain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India has asked the Central government to work with the State governments to allow the industry to grow and reduce ambiguity.
Also read: Fourth edition of GamePlan announced by FIFS - India’s only Annual Fantasy Sports Conference
US Open to include mental health support for players
(Tennis news): US Open has become the first Grand Slam to focus on mental health services for the players on a major scale with specialised teams. USTA (United States Tennis Association) mental health initiative will include mental health providers and quiet rooms. It is headed by the Mount Sinai Health System who will have expert medical officers, sports psychiatrists and former player Mardy Fish on their team. Their team will also have Stacey Allaste who is the Chief Executive of USTA and the US Open Tournament Director and other tournament officials. The pandemic has affected the sport as well as the players, especially the mental health issues and the latest initiative will try to tackle them.
Mental health has been widely discussed on the tour since Naomi Osaka left the French Open after victory in the 1st round, she took part in the on court interview but skipped the post match news conference. It resulted in the tournament organisers giving her a warning that she could be expelled and was fined $15,000 by Roland Garros. She withdrew from the tournament before her 2nd round match and stated that she had to protect her mental wellbeing. The tournament invited a lot of criticism from players and the fans but the organisers cited article III H of the Code of Conduct. Failure to follow certain protocols or duties result in affecting the tournament as it also involves other players being treated equally. When one individual is exempted from certain duties it calls for unfair treatment on other players.
It is routine that every player should attend the post match session after a match is over, there have been many instances where players have had arguments in the past with the reporters as sometimes sensitive questions pop up and land in a controversy. It does bring news as the players discuss their plans or what difficulties they face and is a player’s duty to address them. It also brings in a lot of attraction for the tournament and revenue as it is an important aspect of the sport. A lot of sports have post match conferences including Cricket, Basketball and also Football.
Also read: Mental health taking a toll on athletes as Osaka leaves press conference in tears in Cincinnati
Mental health in the sporting field has been a recent topic as only physical injuries were the concerns earlier. It is important that both the aspects should be taken care of so that the performance and their career won't be affected. It is not the first time that an athlete has openly talked about mental health, Michael Phelps opened up about being depressed after every Olympics and how it affected him and even made him think suicide. Former England Batsmen Jonathan Trott had anxiety battles during the 2013-14 Ashes series which caused him to retire from the game. The most recent being American Gymnast Simone Biles in the Tokyo Olympics, she withdrew from several team events due to her mental health.
Wrestler Vinesh Phogat recently talked about how Indians praise overseas athletes talking about mental health but fail to acknowledge it when it happens in the country. Former Indian footballer Gouramangi Singh also talked about how mental health is currently being openly talked about and the changes taking place over the years.
While it is important to protect one’s well being, it can be done without affecting the other individual or group. The pressure on being top of their game can affect the mental health of the players, it is important that players actively seek medical attention when in need. They also face pressure in their personal life as there have been many instances where their behaviour outside the field has affected their image or the sport they play. They can produce superhuman qualities in the ground but outside they face the same battles every being comes across.
This year, there have been a lot of advancements in the field of mental health. With the US Open starting this initiative, it can bring a lot of change and will help the athletes stay healthy on tour. The challenges will be present at first but will set an example for other events and sports as it is a major event in Tennis. It attracts millions of people around the globe and can be a doorway for other Grand Slams to follow through. It is a great change to the sport and will be exciting to see the players going through with it. The final Grand Slam starts in five days with the qualifiers going on now.
Sometimes, it feels like a dream: Princepal Singh on his NBA journey
New Delhi, Aug 13 (Basketball news) Only the second Indian to debut in the NBA Summer League, young basketball player Princepal Singh says his journey has been nothing short of a "dream" and he is working on his fitness and skills to achieve his next goal of playing in the NBA.
Singh, who hails from Gurdaspur, Punjab, followed his Ludhiana basketball Academy teammate Satnam Singh in making his debut at the Summer league when he turned up for Sacramento Kings against Washington Wizards at Las Vegas on Tuesday night.
"It's amazing to play in the Summer League. I am very happy with my progress as a player. I played G league first and now playing in Summer league, and I am working towards the NBA. I didn't think I will reach this far. It sometimes feels like a dream," Singh said during a virtual press conference.
"My next goal is playing at NBA, Satnam Singh was the first Indian to play and I want to play for long time in NBA, so my focus is on taking care of my body and keeping myself fit." Satnam had played in the Summer League in 2016 after being first drafted in the NBA by Dallas Mavericks in 2015.
Also read: Top 5 best remaining free agents in the NBA
The 20-year-old Singh, whose first professional stint was with the NBA Academy's Ignite team in the G-League, made a brief appearance of just a minute and 22 seconds during the match, which they won 89-75.
"It is a great experience to play against the top players in Summer League. They are all NBA players, who have been drafted. Lot of learning and my game is improving," said Singh, the first-ever NBA Academy India graduate to feature in a Summer League game.
"My coach (Bobby Jackson) asked me to play hard, said I should focus on my game and I will get more time. He asked me to focus on strong rebounding and defense and look to score.
"There is no pressure on me. I have played one game so far. It is just that now getting less game time. So hopefully I will get more time in future. I want to just focus on giving my 100 percent and prove myself." Asked what he learnt from his stint in 'G League Ignite', he said: "I learnt how the pro players conduct themselves off the court, how hard they play, how they help each other." On the basketball scene in India, Singh said: "The sport is growing in India but due to the lockdowns no one has been able to play basketball.
"But the league that is starting in India it will be a good opportunity for the Indian players, they will get more chances. The India league offers good money and if they can work hard, they can achieve a lot through the league.
"Now there will be a 3x3 professional league with Basketball Federation of India. It is a good thing. NBA India was a good initiative, it is spreading the awareness and hopefully sport will grow like cricket one day." '3BL' is India's only FIBA recognized 3x3 professional basketball league which was recognised by BFI in June.
News source: PTI
Top 5 best remaining free agents in the NBA
(Basketball news) Word has gotten around that the NBA free agency is over, but the reality is far from it. Just because a player is unsigned does not mean he can’t change the fortunes of the club that eventually offers him a contract, and there are always diamonds in the rubble that just need to be unearthed.
Here are our top five picks of free agents in the NBA
1. Langston Galloway
Galloway has been a victim of circumstance and despite there not being a big demand for players on rotation, he would be a solid signing for any team in need of backcourt help. Last season, Galloway played mostly off the ball, shooting 43.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s but was stuck behind Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the emerging Cameron Payne. He’s a player that could emerge as a ‘deal’ for any team.
2. Lauri Markkanen
As a restricted free agent, Markkanen finds himself in an unfortunate position where the Bulls can match any offer he receives or negotiate a sign and trade. There have been reports that the New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets are interested in Markkanen, who lacks a player of his stature in their teams. Under normal circumstances, a 24 year old of his calibre would be signed in an instant, but Markkanen had not made 3s at an above average rate until shooting 40 percent last season. Teams who would be willing to gamble based on his flashes of brilliance for the Chicago Bulls are the ideal candidate for Lauri Markkanen.
3. Josh Hart
Just like Lauri Markkanen, Josh Hart is a restricted free agent but his quality is much more evident. The 6 feet 5 player is an excellent rebounder and can hold his own guarding bigger players. Being a restricted free agent has complicated Hart’s circumstances as teams love versatile wings but would need to meet New Orleans’ asking price for a sign and trade deal or need cap space to sign him to an offer sheet.
4. Avery Bradley
Thirty one year old Avery Bradley became a free agent after the Rockets rejected his $5.9 million player option. He is expected to be a candidate for Lakers' roster spots after being a part of the team in 2019-2020 and because they need a point-of-attack defensive player and Bradley certainly fits that profile with a decent shoot percentage and smart cutting.
5. Wesley Matthews
Despite having a less than impressive last season where Wesley Matthews had a shoot percentage of 37.5 on catch-and-shoot 3s, the 34 year old remains a solid option for Los Angeles as a switchable defender. It would also be a complete love story if Matthews signs for the Jazz who signed him as an undrafted rookie 12 years ago.
Also read: Virtual development program launched by NBA Academy for top female prospects from outside the US
Preview: Lahiri, Mane aim to change face of Indian golf with medal at Olympics
Tokyo, Jul 28 (Olympics news) Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane will carry the Indian hopes when the Olympic golf competition tees off on Thursday and the seasoned campaigners said they are out to change the face of the sport in the country with a strong showing at the Kasumigaseki Country Club here.
With 60 players in the field and no cut being applied, Lahiri, who is coming off a top-3 finish on the PGA Tour, knows he has the game to spring a surprise or two.
Lahiri has come with S Chikkarangappa as his caddie.
Chikka is one of the top golfers on the domestic circuit and has multiple top-3 finishes on the Indian tour.
He Is also looking forward to learning from the experience. Mane has his usual caddie Rupesh. Both Lahiri and Mane train with Vijay Divecha.
The women's event to be held next week will see Aditi Ashok in action and it will be her second Olympics like Lahiri.
"It'll be huge," said Lahiri on the prospect of a medal in golf for India.
"As you can imagine, it's a big deal. The Olympics is a big deal. We had our first (women's weightlifting) silver on the first day of the Games...I can feel how it will boost that sport positively and I would love for it to happen in golf.
"This is a great opportunity to have a first with golf … for us to change the perception and attitude." Fellow Bengalurean Mane added, "It will mean that the face of golf will change permanently." "Right now, there is a select amount of people who know what golf is in our country. If we can win a medal, people will know what golf is, all the 1.3 billion people in India.
"There'll definitely be more kids taking up golf. It will change how everyone looks at golf in India. Cricket will always be No. 1 but we'll at least be able to reduce the gap." Lahiri is also seeking to make amends for finishing 57th out of 60 golfers in Rio 2016 Games.
Back then, he was coming off an injury but this time, the 2015 Hero Indian Open winner, enters the week in good form following a top-three finish at the Barbasol Open, his best of the season.
"I definitely have a lot more intent, more focus, more believe and definitely more confidence. To compare last time and this time, it's totally different. I came with an injury...
"Feels like I'm moving in the right direction with my golf and with my body. I think it's good timing for me." Mane, 30, who 11 victories on the domestic circuit, grew up competing in swimming and basketball before being bitten by the golf bug which saw him pursuing the sport as a career. Getting on the flight to Tokyo was a dream come true after he qualified as the 60th player when entries closed last month.
Staying with the Indian contingent at the Games Village has provided Mane with an experience of a lifetime.
Also read: Rejuvenated India eye win against Argentina to seal QF berth in Olympic men's hockey
"I've definitely realised one thing...I've got to work much harder on my fitness seeing all the athletes over there. The atmosphere is really intense. Everyone is trying to peak at the right moment is pretty cool to watch," he said.
"I spoke to a few Norwegian female weightlifters and they had more muscles than I do! They were ripped and were as tall as I am.
"They were more curious about golf than anything else, asking me like how we play 18 holes and that was pretty cool. I met a few other Indian athletes, too," he added.
Donning India's tri-colours, as he did at the Asian Games in 2014, and finished fourth, one place outside the medals, is spurring Mane.
"It always invokes the feeling of going beyond yourself. You're not here for yourself this week. Anirban Lahiri is not playing for Anirban Lahiri. I'm playing for India." "Wearing your nation's colours make a difference. It's a hugely positive thing," he added.
News source: PTI
Olympics: Blast from the past
New Delhi, Jul 19 (Olympics news) With the Tokyo Olympics approaching, PTI takes a look at interesting facts and trivia about the Games from its previous editions.
Here are some highlights and fun facts from the Olympics Games held in 1952, 1956 and 1960.
1952, Helsinki Olympics ============== *Israel entered the Olympic Games for the first time.
*The Soviet Union rejoined the Olympic Games having been absent since 1912 *A cold-war atmosphere dominated the Games as the Soviets set up a rival Olympic village for Eastern Bloc countries.
*USSR women gymnasts, who won the team competition, began a streak that would continue for 40 years until the Soviet Union broke up into separate republics.
*The Helsinki Games marked the return of German and Japanese teams to Olympic competition. East Germany had applied for participation in the Games but was denied, and the German team consisted of athletes from West Germany only.
*Czech long-distance runner Emil Zátopek won the 5,000m, successfully defended his 10,000m title and then took his third gold medal in his first-ever marathon to complete a triple that remains unique in Olympic history.
*Lis Hartel of Denmark, who was paralysed below the knees, claimed silver in the equestrian dressage. She had to be helped on and off her horse.
*Lars Hall, a carpenter from Sweden, became the first non-military winner of the modern pentathlon.
1956, Melbourne Olympics ================= *Melbourne won the right to host the 1956 Olympic Games by one vote over Buenos Aires.
*It was the first time that the Games were held in the Southern Hemisphere.
*Due to the reversal of seasons, the Games were held in November and December.
*While most of the athletes traveled down under for the 1956 Olympics, the horses and riders in the equestrian events did not. Due to Australia’s strict quarantine rules, the equestrian competitions were moved to Stockholm, Sweden—nearly 9,700 miles away—and held five months before the rest of the Games.
*Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq boycotted the Games in protest of the Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula.
*The Soviet invasion of Hungary provoked protests from numerous Western countries, and some of them, such as Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands, withdrew from the Games.
Also read: Lenny D'Gama to be lone Indian Technical Official at Tokyo Olympics boxing competition
*People's Republic of China refused to participate because of the presence of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
*East and West Germany competed as a single team, a practice that would last through the 1964 Games.
*The U.S. basketball team put on the most dominant performance in Olympic history, scoring more than twice as many points as their opponents and won each of their games by at least 30 points.
*Athletes entered the stadium together during the closing ceremony as a symbol of global unity rather than in alphabetical order by National Olympic Committees which was the practice.
*The elctric foil was introduced for the first time in fencing and in swimming, the semi-automatic, digital-display timing device appeared.
1960, Rome Olympics ============== *Rome finally got its chance to stage the Olympic Games, 54 years after it had to give up hosting rights of the 1908 Games, on financial grounds following the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 which caused widespread devastation to the city of Naples.
*An Olympic Stadium, home to the opening and closing ceremonies and the track-and-field competition, and a Sports Palace were built for the Games, and several ancient sites were restored and used as venues.
*The wrestling competition were held in the Basilica of Maxentius, an ancient building in the Roman Forum, and gymnastics in the Caracalla Baths while the marathon was run along the Appian Way and ended under the Arch of Constantine.
*Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila won the marathon barefoot, becoming the first Black African Olympic champion.
*USA's Cassius Marcellus Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, won the light-heavyweight gold medal.
*In 1958, the IOC made the decision to adopt the Anthem composed by Spyros Samaras, with words by Kostis Palamas, as the official Olympic Anthem. It was played for the first time in the 1960 Rome Games.
*It was the last Games in which South Africa was allowed to participate until 1992 as the IOC could not tolerate the racist policies of the South African government.
*The Games were broadcast live in 18 European countries and, with only a few hours delay, to the United States, Canada and Japan.
News source: PTI
I hope to win the National title and raise my international rankings - Racketlon star Siddhartha Nandal
Racketlon may have made its presence known in India just a few years ago, but Indians have repeatedly shown their calibre to not just adapt to this unique sporting format but also excel at four different sports against the best in the world. For those who don’t know what racketlon is, it’s a combination sport where competitors play four different racket sports, table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis one after another. Each sport is played for a total of 21 points and the participant with the most points is adjudged the winner.
One such racketlon player from Delhi, Mr. Siddhartha Nandal is one of the top 100 players in the world. This talented racketlon player from Delhi comes from a sporting family and has won a number of accolades in both India and abroad. In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Siddhartha Nandal speaks about being introduced to racketlon, his strengths and weaknesses, special achievements, mental strength, future goals and more!
Q 1) As someone who comes from a sporting background, how were you first introduced to Racketlon and what motivated you to take up the sport professionally?
I came to know about this wonderful sport from a news article when I was already playing Badminton and TT at national level for the Income Tax Department. Then I met Ashutosh Sir and Cheema Sir who guided and mentored me to pursue it further. I had been a national level player in badminton and state level player in Table Tennis in my school days. Since then, I had always dreamt of wearing the Tricolour on my chest. Playing for the nation has been my greatest motivation for pursuing Racketlon professionally.
Q 2) Out of the four racket sports, table tennis, squash, badminton and tennis, which ones do you consider as your strengths and weaknesses?
Badminton and Tennis are my strengths and I only started training for Squash and Tennis after I decided to pursue Racketlon professionally and I believe I hope to improve in both of them (TT and Squash).
Q 3) How much of an influence has Mr. Om Prakashji Dahiya who is also a Dronacharya winner in wrestling has been encouraging you to become a sports person yourself?
My father- in - law is an inspiration for thousands of national and international players including me. We both share a special "sporting bond " and he would often challenge me for a game of volleyball or basketball when I visit him. He has been producing hundreds of national and international champions from his school campus, Pratap Sports School, Kharkhoda which is located in Sonipat, Haryana. The training environment and methodologies adopted by him at the school campus always motivated me to live a disciplined lifestyle, follow a strict diet and to build this wonderful sporting career.
Also read: Ashutosh Pednekar is an Indian navy captain with a prodigious talent for racket sports
Q 4) You are one of only two players who has achieved the feat of Top 100 Men Singles players in World Ranking, which Racketlon achievement is the most special for you and why?
Winning Gold for India and hearing that national anthem at the award ceremony of the Challenger Cup in Germany at the 17th World Championship has been the best moment so far. Also winning 3 Golds and 2 silvers in one week's time at the Thailand Open 2020 and Indian Open 2020 has given me immense confidence and self belief .
Q 5) How important of a role does mental strength play in succeeding in racketlon and why?
Mental strength and perseverance and the will power to give 100% for every single point is the key to succeed in Racketlon. You may not be able to dominate your opponent in all 4 games but you must try to score as many points as possible, even in your weakest game in order to win the match eventually.
Q 6) What are your future goals and aspirations in Racketlon? How do you plan to achieve them?
Nowadays I am training for the 18th World Championship for singles and Doubles which are to be held in Zurich and Prague in late October. I may get deputed to Mumbai in my department anytime soon now, so I am planning to train under the mentorship of Cheema Sir, Aashutosh Sir, Kotak Sir and Moonmoon Ma'am in Mumbai for few months and then train with my doubles partner Adarsh in Germany for some weeks before the tournament. I aspire to win the National title in the next nationals and to raise my world ranking by winning as many international tournaments as possible.
Athletes who can mentally sustain themselves longer will be successful at the Tokyo Olympics - Former athlete Ashwini Nachappa
Few can boast of outrunning the legendary P.T Usha but an accomplished track and field athlete who goes by the name of Ashwini Nachappa has accomplished the feat not once, but twice. Referred to as India’s Flo-Jo (an American track and field athlete who is regarded as the fastest woman of all time), Ashwini Nachappa has been recognized for her contribution in sport with the prestigious Arjuna Award. Currently serving as the President of the Bangalore Urban Districts Athletics Association, she is also an educationist who has built a school and a selfless social worker.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, we delve into the life of Ms. Ashwini Nachappa to learn more about her journey so far, her special achievements, advice to aspiring athletes, future goals, expectations from the Tokyo Olympics and more!
Q1 ) You have been an inspiration to many, can you please take us through your journey?
My dad used to work in Calcutta for the Birla’s and my mother, sister and myself moved to Bangalore because the factories used to go on lockout in the 1970’s for months together. We moved to Bangalore to pursue education and it so happened that we stayed near a few cousins close to the Kanteerava Stadium. My mother would take both of us along, I was barely eight years old, my sister was nine and a half or ten and we went to the stadium every evening. Instead of playing in the streets, my mother would take us there and at that point we had India’s great athletes such as A. P. Ramaswamy trained there. For every lap that I would run, Mohinder Singh Gill who was the coach would hand us these chocolates and I would get the most sweets.
That’s how my journey began, running bare feet on no tracks, enjoying the thrill of being there and playing around. It propelled me to become the school champion at the age of 10 or 11, at the age of 12 and a half I had won my first gold medal for Karnataka in the junior section at the 1980’s Nationals. After that, there was no looking back and the journey just continued there on.
Q 2) Out of the innumerable accolades that you have achieved in your career, which one is the most special for you and why?
I think every race has been special because you work equally hard for each of them. I have always told all my students and athletes that I have come across that every small step makes a difference and how you attempt every small step to achieve the ultimate goal is as important. My first Nationals when I was 12 or 12 and a half in 1980 at the Kanteerava Stadium where I won my first medal for Karnataka in the 100 meter sprint and got a 1000 rupees from the Chief Minister. That was special as at that time we had no money, encouragement and it was only because of my mother’s grit and my coaches that I managed to win the gold medal. That started my journey, beating Usha (P.T Usha) was very special, winning 400 meters in the 7 Nations training session prior to the Olympics was very special. There have been many such instances as well as my school championships because I’m a product of those games.
Q 3) What is your advice to youngsters and budding athletes on how they can overcome the challenges they face in today’s time? Do you think support and infrastructure has improved since your playing days?
Yes, infrastructure, support, awareness has really come to the forefront and I think in the recent past especially after Karnam Malleswari started winning the first medal for India in the Olympic games, the hopes of a billion people have gone up. If you see the run up to this Olympics, you have these kinds of statistics coming out, about India winning 12 or 13 thirteen medals, you have the Prime Minister of the nation talking to every athlete, talking to their parents. The sporting scenario in India is looking up in terms of infrastructure, awareness, sponsorship and incentives. In our days it wasnt there at all, I remember before the Olympics we had absolutely no exposure other than the training session in Germany for about three weeks, other than that we had never trained or competed outside, that kind of exposure was not there. Today they have it all, there are a lot of academies that are supporting, schemes that are supporting both young athletes as well as the elite athletes. Times have changed, but the kind of hunger, the fire in the belly is lacking because I feel that today you have so much on a platter and sports, especially at the grassroot level needs to really come up and on school level investment in sports at the very base from school and colleges needs to go up.
Q 4) What is your role and responsibilities as the current President of Bangalore Urban District Athletics Association?
Bangalore Urban District Athletics Association was set up when Bangalore was bifurcated into the rural and urban districts. It was time to really bring about a change in the sporting scenario, especially because I got into the administration of the sport. We all heard about the ills of Indian sport administration. I think the 2010 Commonwealth Games brought a lot of issues that really brought down indian sport to the public which they were not aware of. I think to transform and change something that has existed for 60-70 years takes a long time. I think the intention was to set the administrative running of the business in sport differently in Bangalore. I was associated with KPMG Interschool sport where Mohandas and myself started this. It was a growing program for about 13 to 14 years just to revive what Bangalore school sports really represented. In our days Bangalore school sports were like the Olympic games for young children and to revive that it was important to bring about something young children could take part in competitions. That's what we started doing, it's not an easy job. Today the biggest challenge beside the administration is for principals to get the team of their school or college in athletics or in any other sporting events. It's a huge challenge to get teams, back in our days every school had a team whether it is a basketball team, hockey team or athletics team today it is very difficult. Just a few schools that are doing it so that's important to revive.
Q 5) What are your goals and aspirations for the future? How do you plan to achieve them?
I run an institute in Coorg which is an ICSE school. We have almost 800 students, it’s a boarding school. It also houses my sports foundation, National Sports Foundation. We basically launched this project way back in 2004 to bring about a sense of physical awareness amongst small kids. Sports is an integral part of our curriculum right from Montessori to grade 12. Our sports foundation has three-course sports: athletics, shooting as well as hockey. We have been supported by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in setting up the SAI athletic arena, we have a shooting setup, we have a Hockey India junior academy in our campus. It is open to the entire public and all our 800 students. Personally, it is important for me to establish schools in rural areas to really bring about a change in grassroots sports. It is not necessary that everybody becomes an international athlete but it is important to give those opportunities to all. We have set up such platforms and I can proudly say with whatever little we have achieved that 5 to 6 hockey players have joined the SAI programmes. We have many young children who have represented the state in the nationals at the junior level. We have had small successes and I would like this model to be replicated all across the country because we need to pay attention to the grassroots. Once you reach the national level you have many academies and governments tapping into these potential athletes, but at the base level there are not many who can support them. That is what our focus is on.
Q6) We are seeing many debutants in the Olympics this year. What is your expectation from the track and field athletes? Is there any message that you would like to convey to them?
I am happy to see one of the largest contingents India has ever fielded for an Olympic game with 109 athletes. We have almost achieved the gender equality that Tokyo is portraying at this Olympics with 67 male athletes and 56-57 female athletes. What really attracts me is the number of young athletes (below the age of 25) who have qualified for this Olympics. I am happy to see the mindset change. Gone are the days where we were trying to make the qualifying standards, today we have a large number of young children who are fearless. They are not happy with just qualifying but also want to reach the highest level of performance to attain a medal for India. That is a great transition in mindset. In athletics it is also one of the largest contingents that we have fielded, we have six athletes in the race walking 4 men and 2 women, we have athletes in shot put, discus, javelin. Chopra is one of the athletes who is currently fourth in the world and I am looking for at least one medal in the javelin. Sreeshankar is a young boy who has just broken the national record in the long jump, if he can replicate or better his performance he will be in the top six. Apart from these two, I don’t see medal prospects in athletics.
Every Olympic has a different pressure, it is going to be a different game, a game without the spectators, a game with restrictions. I think as an athlete you need to be prepared for any circumstances that are prevailing. The mental aspect will come into play, athletes who will mentally sustain it for a fraction of a second longer will emerge successful. Go out there play for yourselves and play for the country and just go out and achieve what you have set out to achieve, don’t think about the rest. Finding the zone is important, once you are in the zone you will achieve it.
Only in India commentary is seen as post-retirement option, I want to break that stereotype: Cricketer Dinesh Karthik
New Delhi, Jul 7 (Cricket news) Commentary in India is considered a post-retirement option but Dinesh Karthik, who is very much an active cricketer, wants to change that perception. With his sharp yet simple analysis, Karthik became an instant hit in the commentary box when he made his debut in the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand last month.
Karthik says talking on the microphone is much easier than playing the game but it comes with its own set of challenges.
Discussing the game alongside the likes of Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain was also an enriching experience for the 36-year-old. The cricketer in Karthik was not afraid to sledge Hussain a bit and yet earned plaudits from the former England captain.
The social media too heaped praise on the India wicketkeeper-batsman who brought a breath of fresh air into a commentary box full of doyens.
"Actually, I was the only debutant of that final," Karthik said with a chuckle.
While the Indian team went on a 20-day break after the final, Karthik moved on to his next assignment -- the limited overs series between Sri Lanka and England.
He will also be commentating during the five-match Test series between India and England before heading to the UAE to play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. After the IPL had to be suspended in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commentary just happened for Karthik, who had done some punditry for Sky Sports during India's home series against England in February-March.
"I did that and it went pretty well. That is when I got the opportunity to do commentary and I decided to go for it. The mind set was just to speak about whatever little I know about the game," he said rather modestly having played more than 150 games for India across formats.
On the stereotype that commentary is a thing for the former players, Karthik said: "There are a lot of other sports like basketball and football where current players come on air when they are not playing.
"Even now during the Sri Lanka-England T20s, James Anderson was doing it for BBC in the next room. So it is a normal thing, it is only in India I think it is considered like that (post-retirement option).
"I obviously want to break that stererotype to an extent and I am happy to do this when I am not playing." Before making his commentary debut, Karthik got to spend a lot of time with Sunil Gavaskar in Serbia, a country they were in for 10 days before entering the UK amid the pandemic. "I am extremely lucky that it happened. He gave me a few tips (on commentating) and it went well. More than the tips, the time I spent with him was very enlightening and enriching.
"It was also a lovely country and Sunny bhai and I got to meet the Serbian cricket team which was very interesting." Karthik is coming across as a natural on the microphone and all he did was take a couple of online sessions (on when to speak on air, when not to) before flying to the UK via Serbia. Commentating on the players one has played with can be awkward but Karthik had a way of dealing with that. "Commentary can be a lot of fun. You need to watch the sport very keenly to contribute in the right manner.
"Even while talking about the players (teammates), you just speak about the sport and you tell people how hard it is from their shoes. That is what I was trying to do.
"I enjoyed my process of understanding how each player would think at a certain point of time and speak on what is the right thing to do for them at the point of time.
"It has also been awesome to be sitting alongside Nasser and Athers (Atherton). They are the best in the business and just to get to chat about the game with them is something I have enjoyed immensely besides learning a huge amount," said Karthik. He has not played for India since the World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand in 2019 but the Tamil Nadu veteran has not given up on another comeback.
"A lot would depend on how the IPL goes, so looking forward to do well for KKR and let's see if that helps me (make the Indian team)." Has it become harder than ever for him to make a comeback? "Well, playing for India is always hard. You only realise (when you are outside) how tough the sport is. "The stats say I have done well over a period of time. If I do well in the second half of IPL, who knows?"
Also read: WT20Is: Cricketers Wyatt, Villiers back in England women's T20 squad against India
News source: PTI
When it comes to free speech, Olympics are ‘on the wrong side of history’
In Olympics news, Toronto, Jul 5 (The Conversation) An important debate is brewing about free speech at the Olympics. After years of the International Olympic Committee restricting the free expression of athletes at the Games, some prominent athletes are calling for the unlimited right to speak freely — including the right to protest.
The advocates include Canadian decathlete Damien Warner, an Olympic bronze medallist in 2016, who has said: “If there’s something on their mind, then athletes should be allowed to speak.” The IOC, he said, is “on the wrong side of history.” The US Olympic and Paralympic Olympic Advisory Committee takes a similar view.
In response, the IOC has relaxed its Rule 50 on “advertising, demonstrations and propaganda” to allow free speech in interviews and meetings, but has stood firm on the prohibitions against “political” statements on the field of play and during ceremonies. The committee threatens to punish any athlete who disobeys.
The IOC Athletes’ Commission supports Rule 50, saying it believes “the focus at the Olympic Games must remain on athletes’ performances, sport and the international unity and harmony that the Olympic Movement seeks to advance.” But another of the recommendations from the Athletes’ Commission, following a survey and consultation process, was to “increase opportunities for athletes’ expression during the Games.” "The feedback was that they didn’t want it to interfere with the competition itself, so ensuring that the competition itself was protected,” explained Rosie MacLennan, a double gold medallist in the trampoline and chair of Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission.
In worldwide polling, Rule 50 has won the support of the majority of athletes for this position. The Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission has reported that 80 per cent of surveyed athletes supported the rule.
The push for free speech is an artefact of growing athlete activism in recent years in response to racism in European soccer, the unrelenting police violence against Black people and other minorities in countries like the United States and Chinese human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
At the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, two American athletes, fencer Race Imboden and hammer thrower Gwen Berry, conducted silent protests against “racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate” back home.
For many years, Rule 50 completely prohibited critical athletes’ statements or demonstrations at games — and sporting bodies compelled their athletes to comply and athletes went along with it.
The style was epitomised by basketball superstar Michael Jordan, who famously avoided political statements “because Republicans buy shoes too.” When the Canadian skier Laurie Graham likened herself to a cruise missile flying down the hill to a World Cup victory, I asked her not to use a metaphor of death and destruction for a peaceful activity like sport. She quickly agreed, which thrilled me. But then she said that she didn’t want to get in trouble with her sponsors, who told her to avoid controversy.
As a competitor in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics who wrote a widely syndicated student newspaper column from the Olympic Village, I fully support the right to free speech. I have always believed that athletes should take responsibility for the circumstances and sports in which they are involved and they cannot do that without the right to speak out.
Athletes should be able to wear personal signifiers, such as Indigenous sashes or rainbow fingernail polish, both of which have been allowed or banned from competitions and ceremonies at different times.
Free speech is an internationally established human right. It’s not something that should be conferred or denied by a vote. The majority should never be able to silence the minority.
I still subscribe to John Stuart Mills’ admonition that “if all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” The intercultural education cherished by the Olympic Movement would be enhanced by completely free speech. We can’t be hectoring others about what we believe, but we do need to be honest about who we are.
I’ve spoken in China about athletes’ rights. While few agreed with me, no one was shocked. They listened. So did I. The IOC should embrace and support such interactions and tell authoritarian hosts that this is what the Olympics are about.
If some athletes still decide to protest in Tokyo or at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and are punished, that punishment will become the issue. I would be horrified by a repeat of 1968, when the IOC expelled U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the Mexico Olympics for protesting against poverty and racism from the victory podium — in effect banning them for upholding the Olympic aspirations.
With all the challenges facing Tokyo and Beijing, it’s unlikely that Rule 50 will be reconsidered before both Games take place. But the issue won’t go away, and I would like to think the final restrictions will be abolished by the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Also read: My ambition is to fulfill my father’s dream of winning an Olympic medal - Indian boxer Gaurav Bidhuri
In the meantime, athletes like MacLennan, who regularly consults Canadian athletes, should take advantage of the opening provided by the IOC consultation to push for ongoing athlete engagement and athlete-centered reforms on an international basis — including much more significant athlete voice and vote on decision-making bodies.
Once in-person meetings resume, athletes should revive the former practice of open meetings in the Olympic Village where they can introduce and discuss the issues most on their minds — including the geo-political issues that buffet the Games.
If there was genuine opportunity for athletes to become involved in sport governance and public policy, there would be far less reason for them to demonstrate.
Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, always saw the Olympics as a pedagogical project and athletes as the self-actualizing subjects of their activity and learning. If athletes are to learn, they need to learn to deal with political and intercultural issues and when and how to speak out.
The IOC should embrace free speech as a contribution to its highest goals.
News source: PTI
TENVIC is bringing sports to schools and positively impacting the lives of many
For many, sports have made a life changing difference in their lives. It’s not just a sport played for recreation or followed by keeping up to date with sports news, it’s a livelihood for some, a lifestyle for many and a uniting factor that brings cultures together due to a shared passion. Sports teaches us important lessons such as hard work, team spirit, perseverance and purpose, lessons that are not only important at the highest level but even more so at the grassroots such as schools.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Ravikumar Srinivasan, the Vice President Grassroot Sports at TENVIC speaks about promoting sports in schools, involvement of legendary cricketer Anil Kumble in developing solutions, it’s various leadership development programmes, making sports a part of the curriculum, overcoming challenges and future goals.
Q 1) How is TENVIC promoting sports in schools, boardrooms and making it a part of the everyday lifestyle of people?
We at TENVIC believe that sport promotes the well-being of people and ecosystems across personal and professional spheres, that it fosters lasting cultural, social and economic benefits for individuals, societies, nations and the globe. Our services and solutions, aimed at positively impacting the lives of people, in and through sport, are summarized below as four pillars.
1. Grassroots Sports
Structured grassroots programs, to help children excel in a sport of their choice, offered at school, after school and in summer camps. Scientifically developed training content for different sports developed by well-known sportspersons is anchored by TENVIC-trained coaches.
Integrated Sports Program or In school Program – Where multi sports (minimum 3 sports) being integrated into the school time table – from 3rd std upwards. The Sports Program is mandatory for all school children. Today we offer close to 23 sports.
2. Lessons from Sports
3. Branding and Sport
4. Technology and Sport
Q 2) What is the role of legendary cricketer Mr Kumble in developing innovative solutions for schools and corporates?
Anil's iconic status and achievements as an international cricketer are universally applauded. At TENVIC, his proven leadership skills come into play, drawing from his success as Indian cricket team captain, reputed executive coach and public speaker. TENVIC leverages his intellect and experience in all operational aspects. Several of his fun filled cricketing drills have been shared with TENVIC coaches in-turn it is reached to the school students.
Technology is really helping the athletes to achieve what they want in sports.
Q 3) Please tell us about the structured approach by TENVIC for sports training in schools and other communities?
A sports program built on the PE curriculum is integrated in the timetable for all students between Class 3 to Class 10. Takes over the Physical Education classes of a school and delivers the mandated PE syllabus through a selection of 2 or 3 sports from a basket of 23 sports – namely, Cricket, Table tennis, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Chess, Tennis, Volleyball Swimming, Archery, Rifle Shooting, Gymnastics, Judo, Boxing, Athletics, Hockey, Kabaddi, Kho-kho, Handball, Fencing, Weight Lifting, Sepak Takraw, Fencing
1. With the right selection of sports and their corresponding skill training, the essential requirements of a physical education curriculum can be achieved, as in the TENVIC Integrated Sports Program curriculum.
2. Sport is also a fun-filled and enjoyable substitute to traditional physical education teaching methods.
We have worked with several government schools under the CSR program – developed sports infrastructure, providing the structured sports program – created sporting excellence for the schools within a short span of time.
Q 4) What are the various leadership development programmes conducted by TENVIC for life skills and behavioral competency training for sportspeople?
TENVIC, under the Lessons from Sports partnering with several corporations and several sports persons – besides partnering with the corporate entities, we also engage with sportspeople to help them manage the challenges of playing and for career opportunities beyond their sporting life through profiling, mental skilling and one to one mentoring.
The most important battle to win on the playing field is the one in mind. Winning in sport, as someone once said, is 90% mental.
Through our mentoring programs, we help sports people develop mental toughness and competencies for use during their playing years and beyond. These programs draw on the expertise of world class sporting icons and senior human resource professionals and use diagnostic aids, workshops and focused mentoring sessions to achieve results.
Q 5) What do you think needs to be done to make sports an integral part of the school curriculum?
We have been successfully implementing sports as part of the school subject, close to 200+ schools are being imbibed TENVIC Structured sports curriculum and our coaches are being trained 50000+ students across India from 2013.
As you are aware, National Education Policy 2020 was introduced last year, wherein sports is being made compulsory and it is being mandated to be made as part of a school subject, we have to see how the same is being implemented. We are happy that the government has taken this initiative.
Q 6) According to you, what are the various challenges faced in grassroot development and how can they be overcome?
Most of the schools do not have proper sports infrastructures. I am sure things will change rapidly under the NEP 2020. Most of the schools will start adopting the sports program and more and more students will start playing structured sports and create sporting excellence for their schools.
Q 7) What are the future goals of TENVIC and how can that be achieved?
TENVIC works with Schools, Academies and Centre of Excellence. TENVIC Methodology is LTAD (Long Term Athlete Development) principal. TENVIC founders (Anil Kumble and Vasanth Bharadwaj – both known for their sports) had a vision of witnessing their trained athletes climbing the Olympic podium and bringing laurels to the country and to their partners.
Boxing sensation Poonam looks to continue unbeaten streak at International tournaments
Excelling at any sport requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice, essential qualities that an athlete reaps the rewards of after many years. For Indian boxer Poonam, she also had to sacrifice a life changing job opportunity to venture into the unknown world of international boxing at the Youth World Championship in Kielce, Poland. Hailing from a humble farmers background in Haryana, Poonam not only chose to follow her passion, but made headlines in boxing news around the world by bringing home a gold medal in the featherweight 57 kg category after defeating Sthelyne Grosy of France. What makes her achievement even more impressive is that Poonam remains unbeaten at the international stage, having won five bouts at the Youth World Championship.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Poonam speaks about her introduction to boxing and taking it up professionally, overcoming challenges, winning gold in Poland, training during the lockdown and future goals.
Q 1) How old were you when you started boxing and what motivated you to take up the sport professionally?
I started playing sports with Basketball but I was introduced to boxing when I was 12 years old. My father used to take me for training in my early days but eventually I told him that I would like to go on my own. Initially, I found it difficult to maintain my interest in boxing, but over time I started enjoying the sport and decided to take it up professionally.
Q 2) How difficult was it for you to decide between Railway trials or going to the Youth World Championship? What made you choose boxing?
I got very confused when my Railway trials and the Youth World Championships coincided with each other, because I was not sure which one to choose. When I asked my family what would be the right decision, I received mixed responses from all of them. It was a stressful period for me and everyone around but eventually my father told me that I should go to the Youth World Championship. He said that an athlete should focus on the sport they have been training for, there would be plenty of opportunities to get a job in the future. That’s what made me choose boxing and I won the gold medal because of that decision.
Q 3) As someone who comes from a village in Haryana, what are some of the challenges you faced in your journey? How did you overcome them?
For any new boxer, they face some challenges with regards to food, access to sports equipment. Getting access to the facilities is also a very big challenge because without it, you cannot progress as a professional boxer. I also faced such problems but everything became a lot easier when I got a bank job. After that, I could afford food, shoes, sporting equipment and I could fully focus on the sport because my other necessities were taken care of. In hindsight, I did not have to sacrifice too much or face many problems in my journey because my sister took care of a lot of things. She asked me if I wanted a job and gave me everything that was required, which is why my sister was the biggest support system. Apart from that, my family also encouraged me to pursue my passion.
Q 4) How was the experience of winning a gold medal at the World Youth Championships? Who are the people who have helped you in your journey?
When I won the gold medal at the World Youth Championship, I was very happy. It was a great feeling to win the gold medal which I would like to dedicate to my coaches, because they have trained me well which is why I have accomplished this feat. I would also like to thank the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and Khelo India for giving me access to their training center during the lockdown. My family also deserves this medal as they have made me who I am today.
Q 5) How did you continue training during the COVID-19 lockdown? What is your training routine?
Unfortunately, the lockdown has begun again and all the training centers are shut. I have been training at home with my brother on the roof from morning until evening.
Q 6) What is your ultimate dream and aspiration for the future? How do you plan to achieve it?
My plan for the future is to continue going forward like I have at the World Youth Championship. My dream is to represent India at the Olympics and win a gold medal. To accomplish this, I am 100% dedicated to my training, following my strict diet and giving my all.
We want to identify the best sporting talent and provide opportunities and financial support - Moonmoon Mukherjee, Founder at P3 Sports Management Company
From representing India in Table Tennis to giving back to the sport that started it all as a International Table Tennis Association (ITTF) certified level 3 coach, Moonmoon Mukherjee’s contributions cannot be understated. Winner of the Women Achiever award in 2014, Moonmoon is helping develop a sporting culture, sport properties and promoting grassroot development and is aspiring to reach newer heights.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Moonmoon Mukherjee, Founder at P3 Sports Management Company speaks about the challenges she faced as a professional table tennis player, using that experience in a coaching career, importance of sports management, grassroot development, impact of COVID-19 and future goals.
Q 1) As a woman who has represented India in Table Tennis, what are the challenges that you faced in your journey? How did you overcome them?
I started playing Table Tennis at the age of 8 years, I’m from a small town called Chandannagar, Hooghly. It was difficult to travel for my training everyday to Kolkata and manage both academics and Table Tennis but somehow I balanced both. Availability of proper infrastructure was a big problem. During those days, there was not much knowledge about proper equipment (Rubbers, professional racquets and balls) and access to those products was rare.
Q 2) As a former table tennis player, how much of an advantage was it when you transitioned to coaching? How did you use your experience as a table tennis player in your coaching career?
When I did my first coaching qualifications (ITTF level 1, evell 2 and level 3), I was just starting out as a player. This meant I wasn’t actually coaching that much. The lessons I learnt during the qualifications – technique, tactics, mindset – were of great benefit to me as a coach. I thought about table tennis in a different way and began to understand the sport comprehensively. My technique improved and my range of shots increased. The tips I gave to other players about footwork, stance, spin generation, ball placement and shot selection were also implemented in my own game. Here are some things that I have got better at since I am coaching
Watching my opponent – During coaching sessions, I have to play and watch the other player, so I can give feedback on the player’s technique, timing, footwork and shot selection. This has been very beneficial for me when I play matches. By watching my opponent more, I see what shot is coming next that little bit sooner, which means I can react quicker.
Speed control – When coaching, I have to control the pace of the drills. This sometimes means slowing the ball down or speeding up, depending on the level of the player. This is a very useful skill when playing matches. Sometimes I need to inject more pace into the rallies, but other times, taking the pace out of the rally can really disrupt the other player. Some fast attackers just don’t know how to respond to this!
Ball placement – When coaching, I need to be accurate in my ball placement, both in regular and irregular drills. This has been very useful when playing matches as my ability to hit different areas of the table (from anywhere) has improved a lot.
Backhand technique – A lot of coaching requires feeding the ball using my backhand. The sheer volume of balls I have hit using my backhand means my backhand technique is now far more consistent. This has made me a stronger allround player. My backhand is pretty solid now.
Pushes and blocks – I am becoming a master of pushing and blocking – especially blocking! So much of my coaching is about developing the attacking skills of the other player. So they top spin, I block. Topspin. Block. Topspin. Block. When you block 14 hours a week, you get very good at it!
The lead instructor of my level 1 qualification told me that some players sign up to the course, not to get into coaching but to get better at table tennis too. My belief is that if you only do a little bit of coaching, but still have plenty of time to practice for your own game, then coaching can definitely help you improve.
Q 3) What led you to start the P 3 Sports Management Company? How important of a role does sports management play in today’s day and age?
P3 Sports Management was born out of passion. It is a pioneering sports organization founded by a set of like-minded individuals aiming to bring mainstream sport to public consciousness, with a specific focus on Olympic and non-Olympic games like Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash, Volleyball, Basketball, Carrom, Tennis, Football and Cricket. P3 Sports conducts a series of championships & coaching programs to get people to truly enjoy their athletic spirit. The founders of P3 Sports have been conducting sports championships and coaching for the last several years in and around Mumbai and California, US. P3 has conducted more than 30 sporting tournaments and handled 1000-plus players. It has a combination of reputed sports experts and industry professionals on our Board of Directors and advisors. Conducting corporate, inter-schools and state level championships along with providing grass-root training and mentoring to sports enthusiasts and under-privileged children. We organised Doctors Indoor Games in collaboration with WOCKHARDT In 2019. Our aim is to be India’s topmost change-maker in the field of sports by introducing Sports Tourism Packages for Indian School’s with the collaboration with CSS (Complete Sports Solution). Mr Dhrmil Dixit, Marketing head of P3 & Mr Ankit Garg, Business development head are very hopeful about this development and believes that this would be a game changer in the Indian sporting industry. I think Sports Management plays a vital role in today’s sports scenario. Management in sport organizations provide sports development, general planning activities in the field of sports, organize all relevant resources, processes and functions, exercises a policy of human resources development, organized sports and business functions, provide communication and coordination.
Q 4) According to you, what needs to be done to promote a sporting culture in India with a strong grass root development program?
Indians at large, have never been the 'sporty type'. Sports are not ingrained in our psyche. Neither is it an integral part of our everyday life. The passion for sports has only resided in a small percentage of the population. Statistics indicate that while 42% of our population participates in Cricket, the average participation for all other sports (Badminton, Cycling, Running, Football, Volleyball, Tennis, Table Tennis ,Swimming, etc) is below 13%. Research suggests that the sports industry is poised to grow at about 20% over the next decade and contribute between 1 - 5% of India's GDP. In addition, national sports programs such as Khelo India, the efforts of the various sports leagues and most importantly, the focus on health & fitness are all contributing to growing awareness and improving participation. Girls and women are today equally participating in sports and winning laurels for India which is a wonderful sign from a nation development context. The ladies constituted about 45% of the CWG 2018 team and won 42% of the medals. However, this is not enough.
Unless India makes a structured effort to broad-base sports and increase participation at the grassroots level, we will continue to lag behind, not just on social development and youth inclusion parameters but also deliver limited success at world sport events. We must remember that the goal (health & fitness) is sequential and definitely more important than the outcome (Olympic medal). While the sports ministry has to lead the charge, other stakeholders i.e. corporates, entrepreneurs, national federation, state level associations, equipment manufacturers, media & service providers have to come together to develop & promote the cause of sport.
My visual thoughts on the same are captured below:
The journey of an athlete, begins with school and community participation, progresses through the zonal & district levels onward to representing India at the national & international level. However this journey from interest in sports to participation to potential and then to excellence is a long and tough road and success rates are as low as 2 - 3%.
This journey has two distinct phases - (1) Participation and (2) Performance Excellence, and is important because it equips the youth with life skills that help shape core elements of his personality. All the athlete expects from the ecosystem around him is support, best wishes, encouragement and inspiration. We should be large-hearted enough to give it. The journey of a nation, towards emerging as a sporting superpower needs focused investing in a structured program focused on grassroots sports development. This will deliver numerous benefits, one of which is the National Sports Talent Repository, which, when nurtured, delivers international sporting success, youth icons, Olympic glory and national pride. We have to demonstrate the passion & the will to participate in this journey and hold others accountable who are not aligned to this nation's purpose.
Build awareness and launch propaganda
Grassroots participation and local community connect: Unless schools and communities are seamlessly integrated into focus, this plan will not bear fruit. For this to happen, local community influencers, key personalities, participant families, the local sports community and the local governance machinery has to come together as one. Today, there are grass root development agencies that have built a deep understanding and strong connections that have to be leveraged to make this happen. The second step is to understand the local community in terms of its historical association with sports. For example, if a region in Punjab (say Amritsar, Gurdaspur & Kapurthala) is historically known to produce hockey players, focus on hockey in that region. Don't create an archery program in this community because it will defeat the purpose. At the same time, if another region in Punjab (say Moga, Muktsar & Faridkot) has strengths in weightlifting & athletics, then focus on the same.
Back end execution support: Grassroots sports development needs an exceptional program manager & event orchestrator to coordinate across multiple parties such as state associations, local media, sports facility owners, participants and the community to bring this to life. Quality has a price and therefore higher expectations on event quality, one needs to have a proportionate budget.
Q 5) How much of an impact has COVID-19 had on sports tourism and corporate sports events?
The pandemic has brought events to a near standstill, and the industry feels it but as challenging as the situation has been for the sport and tourism businesses with reduced live attendance or cancelled events, we are seeing some light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel and I’m optimistic sports and tourism will return. The experience will look different soon, but humans crave interaction and need social network, I am optimistic that the next six months will show significant indicators of tourism recovery in all verticals, including sports tourism and event leaders plan to come back stronger, with higher standards of cleaning, enhanced technology and operations, better organizational communications, and an overall improved organization culture derived from experiencing the pandemic together.
For now, sport and tourism organizations will continue to navigate the murky, ever-changing situation of the pandemic and hope to open their doors to full capacity again soon. Corporate Sporting events are also at a standstill but I am very optimistic about the return that corporate sporting events will return with a bang soon, as corporate professionals are also looking forward to participating as soon as the pandemic situation improves. COVID-19 has brought in a wave of challenges and opportunities for the sports sector. While several events have been cancelled or postponed, the technological advancements have helped generate viewership and engagement through Esports.
On occasions traditional sports and Esports have worked together to organise events with real-world players participating in online competitions representing their teams, which were streamed live and well-received. This speaks for the tremendous growth potential should the sports and gaming industries work in tandem. This is also indicative of the immense potential of sports which has found ways to continue to entertain even during such difficult times.
The show will go on … eventually.
Q 6) What is your vision for the future of sports management in India? What are your goals and aspirations for P 3 Sports Management Company?
Sports management companies are coming up every day in India and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad now have some world-class companies in this sector. ... Marketing and branding have also a great scope in the field of sports. Sports marketing managers and sponsorship managers are much in demand. With very few professionals being available (most seek employment abroad) there is constant demand for qualified professionals in the field of sports management, like Business Development Managers, Store Manager Sports Station, Area Sales Manager Sports Textiles, Category Manager - Retail Sports, Sports Director and Sports Coordinator, Digital marketing Manager, Players Management etc. Various sports leagues and thus the field of sports management have a great scope now. Sports leagues like IPL, ISL, UTTA, PBL, Pro Kabaddi League have created significant impact on the Indian sports scenario. These leagues will surely increase the requirements for industry professionals.
The passion for sports is at the core of our Mission. Our primary motive is setting and achieving targets and moving beyond our limits in life. Enabling people to achieve their highest goals in sports and improve their well-being. Development of grass root level sporting ecosystem in India. Launching Professional Coaches Training Programs and helping sports enthusiasts to learn and master the game of their choice to represent, participate and compete in sporting events. To identify, coach and train young talent of India, providing them access to best facilities, coaches, mentors and sponsors. Creating a platform that brings together the amateurs & masters playing, learning, competing and winning on the same grounds. Our motto is to identify sporting talents from B Town cities and provide them the best opportunities and financial support. Also support Para-Athletes through our NGO (C.A.R.E FOUNDATION) which we will be launching at the end of July - 2021.
Five best sports movies you should stream right now!
We all love sports movies. The thrill, action packed drama, songs that make you feel super motivated, rags to riches stories, they have it all. Sports documentaries and movies give rare, behind the scene access to the journey, hard work, dedication, obstacles and what really goes behind making an athlete or a team successful. Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast, there are valuable lessons of teamwork, dedication, passion and following your dreams that can be applied to any aspect of life.
We’re sharing our pick of our top five sports movies that you can watch while you’re at home during this never ending lockdown.
All or Nothing
While not a ‘movie’ but a brand of sports documentary series, the All or Nothing series on Amazon Prime is a must watch. It provides exclusive, behind the scene access to some of the biggest teams in the world of sports such as Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, New Zealand national rugby union team, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. They will also be featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs in the upcoming season. The All or Nothing series is a complete sports treat for your visual entertainment with in depth insights of sports teams which are expertly edited with brilliant soundtracks. We cannot recommend this enough!
Produced and directed by Bennet Miller, Foxcatcher is an American biographical sports drama loosely based on the events surrounding multimillionaire wrestling enthusiast John du Pont when he recruited two 1984 U.S Olympic gold medallists Mark and David Schultz for various wrestling championships. Despite its slow narrative, the movie is undeniably gripping and is one of the best sports drama’s you can watch on Amazon Prime.
Inside Borussia Dortmund
This behind the scenes series 4 part docu-series takes you up close and personal with the everyday life at Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. Explore how one of the biggest Bundesliga clubs prepares to compete for the highest honours in Europe, groom some of the most exciting football prospects in the world, locker room drama and the personal lives of the players. A must watch for football fans!
Released in 2011, Moneyball is an American sports drama film by Bennet Miller. It is based on Oakland Athletics baseball team and general manager Billy Beane’s attempt to create a competitive team with a limited budget. Peter Brand, a Yale economics graduate with radical ideas of player valuation joins Beane as assistant general manager and acquires undervalued players despite the resistance from the scouts. The movie then goes on to depict how the Athletics become a winning team for a record 20 consecutive times. This utterly engrossing baseball film is a must watch for all sports lovers.
This entertaining blockbuster is a classic, collaborating two unlikely superstars in Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Directed by Joe Pytka, the movie provides a fictional account of the events that took place between Jordan’s retirement in 1993 and his comeback in 1995. The Looney Tunes kidnap Jordan to help them win a basketball match against a group of aliens looking to enslave them as theme park attractions. The movie grossed over $250 million worldwide and is the highest grossing basketball film to date. If you’ve not seen it already, what are you waiting for?
Sportly.Me is helping young athletes to get better together within their sporting community
For any country who sets their sights on becoming a sporting nation, ensuring it’s young players reach their full potential in a safe, fun and supportive environment is key. As the world is gearing towards a more digitized future, transitioning training communities to an online space is the need of the hour, especially at a time when young athletes are being forced to train remotely due to the ongoing pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Damien Thomson, Founder of Sportly.Me sheds some light about how the platform is helping coaches train more effectively, impacting the physical and mental health of young athletes, inspiration behind the platform, expansion in Asia and future goals.
What inspired you to create Sportly.Me?
I have 2 daughters, both who have commenced their journey through competitive sport, and elite pathways programs in Basketball. At the time, my eldest daughter (now 14) was training very hard to make a representative team, however she kept sustaining soft tissue injuries, keeping her sidelined for 1-2 weeks at a time and disrupting her preparation.
I searched and trialed multiple apps, looking for a way to help her monitor and analyse the areas of training that she was focussing on and more importantly, not focusing on, which could be contributing to these injuries. All the platforms we trialled were either too complicated for junior athletes, or did not provide the necessary insight for her coach to see what she was doing.
At the same time, my younger daughter was falling in love with the sport and inspired by her older sister, however was too young to access social media, which is where the majority of content is shared by clubs, players and coaches, so she was missing out on the fuel to help stoke the passion, develop and motivate her as an athlete.
So, given this dilemma, we decided to build Sportly.Me - a development platform specifically for junior athletes, where they can interact safely within their sporting community and get better together.
How important of a role does Sportly.Me play in the development of junior athletes at the grassroot level?
Sportly.Me has proven to be a valuable tool for any junior development program. It’s versatility enables it to be equally central to a grassroots program as it is to an elite representative team.
For clubs and coaches working with future stars in grassroots development programs, Sportly serves as a great resource for centralising and sharing training workouts, monitoring training progress and providing feedback on individual technique through our unique coach connect feature.
Further, Sportly.Me eliminates the need for multiple apps to take care of the administrative elements of junior teams. Through our paid subscriptions we offer teams group chat channels, game and training scheduling and club wide updates.
As the players development and training focus evolves from primarily skills based to encompass strength and conditioning, then Sportly.Me continues to support them along their journey… and for those looking to a future career in their chosen sport, we can provide them with a Sportly.Me Training Passport - a historical overview of their entire training patterns, achievements, teams and results.
How does the data tracked on Sportly.Me improve effectiveness in training?
We focus on providing coaches and players with data across 3 core areas to help promote effective training.
Firstly, Sportly.Me is a platform that encourages Development of all athletes no matter their level of ability, so it’s not surprising to learn that we provide insight into how athletes are developing - not just with their skills, but equally as important for a balanced training program are the other focus areas including speed, strength and stretch.
Secondly, we capture performance data to help coaches and players visualise their improvement, or, identify areas for improvement. Features such as screening tests, game & stats tracking are powerful tools for driving performance outcomes from training.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, Sportly.Me helps reduce the risk of injury through over (or under) training, resulting in players spending more time on court and performing at a higher level when it counts. Physical and mental wellness tracking combined with advanced training load analysis are important feedback tools for any training program, and Sportly.Me makes it easy for players to log and coaches to review data.
How does Sportly.Me place importance on mental wellbeing?
The psychological benefits of sport on children’s development and engagement are well documented. Mental wellbeing can impact player performance and enjoyment of the sport just as much as physical wellbeing.
During the current pandemic, the restrictions on junior sport have meant that young athletes have been unable to connect with each other, their coach or their clubs, providing no relief from the very distressing situation. In fact, studies have revealed that youth suicide ideation during Covid was 1.75 - 2.0 times higher than before this period.
Sportly.Me provides a mechanic whereby players can report and track both their physical and mental wellbeing on a daily basis. This information is shared with their coach who can then contact them directly to discuss any highlighted concerns or direct them to organisations that are qualified to deal with mental health.
How important of a role does community building play to encourage junior athletes to get better together?
Community is vitally important to the engagement of young athletes across a sport. Children start to develop a strong affinity to a sport (and their sporting heroes) from as early as 6 years of age, well before they are able to access social media, which is unfortunately where all the entertaining content lives. Our vision for Sportly was to bring some of this content into a sports focussed community, that was an accessible, safe environment for kids of all ages to participate.
To help realise this vision, in May of this year, we appointed a professional basketball player and emerging Australian Superstar, Shyla Heal, as our first brand ambassador. Shyla is able to engage with athletes through the platform to help motivate, educate and inspire them to reach for the stars.
Similarly, clubs, associations and academies are able to share content with their members through the platform, all with the intention of helping everyone get better together.
What are your plans for the Asian/Indian market in the near future?
We are very excited about our expansion into the Asian region. We see India as a key market for us as they start to emerge from the Covid restrictions. Sport is such an important part of life for so many young people across India, and we are seeing a growing investment by both local and international academies to help develop these kids. As the only development and community platform that has been developed exclusively for junior athletes, Sportly.Me is well positioned to help these academies execute their training programs.
Similarly, Sporty has a growing physical presence on the ground in India. We already have much of our development based here and are in the process of increasing our staff across sales and client support. This is reflective of the size of the opportunity and our commitment to the market.
Which are the teams and associations that Sportly.Me is currently associated with?
Sportly.Me was initially launched to support the sport of Basketball. As part of the platform rollout, we worked closely with our foundation partner - Basketball NSW, to support their 2021 High Performance Program and State representative teams. As part of their program, Sportly has supported over 1.2m minutes of activity and upwards of 22,000 logged training sessions.
Following the completion of this launch, we have commenced pilots for some of Australia’s leading sporting academies, multiple local basketball associations and numerous local basketball teams.
What are a few of the success stories of teams/associations that have made use of Sportly.Me?
We have a relatively short history, so we are really just getting started in this space. My most memorable story, however, was seeing a u12 team start using the platform for the first time during a covid lockdown. Sportly allowed their coach to share workouts and run competitions during this period, so all the players could continue training at home. The young kids would upload the videos of themselves training, and their coach would provide feedback. Once out of lock down, this team went on to qualify for the premier division in their local competition!
What is your long term vision and goals for Sportly.Me? How do you plan to achieve them?
Our long term vision for Sportly is to connect and support young athletes all around the world to help them achieve their individual goals through sport. This doesn’t mean that they all will compete at an elite level, we like to think that we can help them become the most Sportly version of themselves.
While basketball was where we started our journey, today we have already launched a version for netball and are preparing to release similar apps for volleyball, softball, cricket, football, triathlon, water polo and many more to follow.
Virtual development program launched by NBA Academy for top female prospects from outside the US
NEW YORK– The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday launched the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program, an eight-week basketball and leadership development program for over 40 of the top female, high-school age (14-17 years old) prospects from outside the USA.
Under the guidance of current and former WNBA players and the NBA Academy Staff, participants will join with their peers from across the globe and participate in basketball and life skills development programming.
Any parent or legal guardian interested in submitting an application on behalf of their child should submit their child’s HomeCourt profile or upload a skills video as outlined in the application form on the NBA Academy website by June 18. NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program participants will be announced in June, with the program starting in July and running through August.
As part of the program’s on-court curriculum, participants will be provided with weekly virtual basketball lessons, instructions and challenges featuring present and former WNBA athletes. The interactive lessons will feature a range of shooting, ball handling and conditioning drills to promote holistic skill development. The best performing players will be considered for in-person basketball development camps and showcases in future.
The life skills programming will include weekly sessions focusing on leadership development, nutrition, goal setting, personal branding, mental health and wellness, player pathway education and women’s empowerment. Sessions will have guest speakers and experts from across the NBA and WNBA family, including NBA Academy Women’s Program Global Technical Director and 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist Jennifer Azzi.
“The NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program will continue our mission of helping young women around the world develop as people and players,” said Azzi. “International players are making a significant impact at all levels of the women’s game, and this program will help top international prospects connect with their peers, learn directly from WNBA players and continue their development.”
25 participants have committed to NCAA Division I schools since the launch of NBA Academy Women’s Program in 2018. Han Xu from China became the first NBA Academy Women’s program participant to be drafted into the WNBA when she was chosen 14th overall by the New York Liberty in the 2019 WNBA Draft.
American College Cricket has laid the foundation for the sport that others can build on - Lloyd Jodah, Founder and President of ACC
It’s fair to say that cricket is not the most popular sport in the USA. For a country where the most popular sport in the world - football, (also known as soccer) probably occupies the fourth spot behind American football, basketball and baseball, it’s a reasonable assumption that cricket’s popularity, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, has not caught up with this part of the world. However, American College Cricket is on a mission to promote cricket at the Universities and bring it to the forefront to become a mainstream sport in the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Lloyd Jodah, Founder and President of American College Cricket speaks about its success, promoting cricket and universities, challenges that he has faced, organizing tournaments and future goals.
Q 1) Since its formation in 2008, how successful has the American College Cricket been in growing the Sport in America & Canada?
American College Cricket created a new platform for cricket and is by the far the most successful cricket organization in US history. To use the major example of broadcasting:
1 - American College Cricket did the 1st Live stream of cricket in USA in March 2010
2 - Oct 2011 we were the first (& so far only) organization to broadcast cricket on American TV
3 - American College Cricket was the 1st, and still only entity to broadcast cricket in the USA on ESPN when we did our March 2014
National Championship Final. We were also the 1st non-international cricket to be broadcast by ESPN, before the IPL.
4 - in 2016 we did an agreement with SONY and each year SONY does our National Championship Semis & Finals. Had it not been for
the Covid shutdown our 2020 Championship Semis and Finals would have been on SONY LIV in India.
We even brought the 1st major US corporation into cricket sponsorship in the USA when we got Coca Cola in 2012, then in 2015/16
when Dream11 was in its early stages it was our sponsor.
Q 2) What is being done to promote Cricket at grassroot level in the US?
Non- Americans always ask this question without understanding that the grassroots for American sport has always been college (University). Every other level comes after that. We created a platform for the game at the college level in the USA as Wisden recognized US cricket in 2014 saying, "the most promising development has been the formation of American College Cricket. Founded by Lloyd Jodah, ACC now has teams at over 60 universities…. perhaps because of this show of interest, in 2011 ESPN bought the US broadcast rights to all future international cricket matches, including the 2015 World Cup.”
Therein is the answer, American College Cricket has laid the foundation (though USA is so large the work is never done) it's up to others to build on that.
Q 3) What are the major challenges you face while promoting and growing Cricket in a country where the Sport isn't quite popular?
Everything, cricket, social, economic. One example is that cricketers don't look around and "do as the Romans do". For example I've started college clubs which then went and played in non-college leagues, clearly not understanding their brand value. This never happens in other college sports, colleges only play vs other colleges in USA college sports. Cricket would have been much further along in development in the USA if cricket players didn't proceed as if blindfolded.
Other examples are: when we started doing TV, we couldn't find fields with electrical power. Getting players to show up punctually. Getting fields with proper outfields. Getting money to execute ideas. I could list challenges all day.
Q 4) Besides immigrants from Cricket playing nations, do other Americans also get involved with the game?
Immigrants usually become Americans. Traditionally the USA is not like many other countries where immigrants remain outsiders, generally speaking.
I will say this, at the college and professional levels (American) football and basketball are mainly Black, whilst Ice Hockey is mainly White. The NBA is about 75% Black, the NFL about 70%, the NHL is about 93 % White, yet cricket's demographics are always questioned. I don't care what ethnicity or nationality is playing my game, as long as it's being played. Let's show what's great about cricket, and maybe we might attract people new to the game.
When American College Cricket teams step on the field, they are American institutions wearing "American uniforms" playing the game, and their ethnicity is irrelevant. They represent their universities, not their ethnicity or nationality.
Q 5) What are the major tournaments being played at University levels and what is the response these games receive?
When I began American College Cricket in late 2008 that was the beginning of college cricket in the USA in modern times. Cricket in colleges before that was tennis or tape ball internally, and unorganized. We started cricket clubs in over 100 colleges and nearly every college that now has an organized club in USA is due to American College Cricket, either because I had a direct involvement in starting the club, or a student was motivated by hearing about American College Cricket,or seeing our videos or photos (we've been the only cricket organization in USA, since 2010, to have thousands of cricket action pics).
When we started, colleges spent $0 on cricket, but we motivated all colleges that have participated in American College Cricket to provide facilities for practicing and playing, and varying amounts of $$ to partially fund their clubs' activities. Just as important, every club that has participated in American College Cricket has been written about in their college media, which exposes the game to so many more students, and embeds it in American society.
We've had a National Championship since 2009, Regional Championships since 2010, a USA vs Canada Series since 2015. We've had 546 games in our National Championships and 633 in our Regional championships,and 23 in our USA vs Canada Series. Our National Championship probably has been the largest cricket tournament ever, for example in 2011 we had 67 matches in 5 days (played by 32 teams). I brought down the size to about 50 matches subsequently, and even less now.
Q 6) Where do you see the future of American Cricket and in your opinion when we will see America's national team competing with major Cricketing countries?
America might compete with major cricketing countries soon because it recently achieved ODI status, and the new USA Cricket body seems to be bringing players from cricket playing countries. On the other hand there are "Test" countries that have economic, organizational, political and other issues unfortunately which affect their performance so it'll be easy for USA to catch up on the field. Only India can be happy about cricket's status in their country, and even there soccer may challenge it in about 20 years.
However merely competing at a higher level is not by itself development. Cricket "development" faces countless issues but the biggest one is the ICC law for ODIs and T20s which says that any ball down the Leg Side is a wide - this has created a game that is divorced from real cricket, and made the game Baseball-like, with a set "Strike zone". A poor imitation of Baseball will not make it in the USA when there's real baseball. Who would be intrigued by a batsman pulling (a baseball like shot) with a broad flat bat when it's more challenging for a baseball batter to play the same shot with a smaller round baseball bat ?
Additionally the ICC has ignored what American College Cricket has done - what kind of International body ignores what we've accomplished for the game over the past 12 years in the toughest sports market in the world? How do you invade the USA and ignore an American's success in giving cricket a real chance in the USA ? I go more into this in my forthcoming book.
NBA Academy India graduate Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak enrols at North Park University
New Delhi, Jun 3 NBA Academy India graduate Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak has enrolled at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, becoming the sixth male student-athlete from the academy to commit to a high school or college basketball programme in the US.
Chhakchhuak first participated in the 2017-18 Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program before joining NBA Academy India in 2018 as a part of the academy's second class of student-athletes identified through the ACG-NBA Jump program.
The 6-1 guard represented NBA Academy India at the 2018 and 2019 NBA Academy Games in Australia and the US, respectively, as well as the Point Loma Nazarene Team Camp in San Diego in 2019.
"I am looking forward to this opportunity at North Park University that will keep me on the pathway I have set out on," said Chhakchhuak.
"This wouldn't have been possible without the guidance of the coaching staff at the NBA Academy India and the constant support of my family." "We are certainly excited to add a player like Lalhnehpuia to our squad. In particular we like his size at the guard position and as he continues to get stronger we can envision how he can become an important piece within our program," said North Park head coach Thomas Slyder.
"His ability to play at the speed and pace he prefers to play at is an important characteristic for a guard to have." In addition to Lalhnehpuia, five other NBA Academy India student-athletes have committed to playing basketball in the US -- Harshwardhan Tomar (KEBA Preparatory School), Jagshaanbir Singh (Golden State Prep, Point Park University), Pranav Prince (First Love Christian Academy), Amaan Sandhu (First Love Christian Academy), and Riyanshu Negi (DME Sports Academy).
Princepal Singh became the first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract when he signed with the NBA G League Ignite.
NBA Academy India is an elite basketball training centre for the top prospects from across the country. New source PTI
Top five sports documentaries you must watch on Netflix
Have you ever wondered why sports documentaries are so engaging? It’s because sports is more than the result, it’s more than winners or losers, it’s more than politics, drama and fans. Sports documentaries encompass all these aspects and more. It captures emotions, untold stories, interpersonal relationships, overcoming adversity and everything that’s on stake. It’s all about the journey, it brings fans closer to their idols and portrays a humane figure behind all the glitz, glamour and money. It scratches beneath the image of iconic sports stars to showcase that even the best of the best suffer from self doubt and fear of failure.
If the game itself is the tip of the iceberg, a sports documentary is all the ice hidden from view that is finally showcased to the wider world. Here are our top five picks of sports documentaries that you should stream on Netflix.
The Last Dance
A 10 part documentary about the 1990’s Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance gives rare insight to the life of arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. The documentary explores his journey from Jordan’s rookie years to the height of superstardom, his ultra competitiveness and the complex relationship between the man himself, his sidekick Scottie Pipin, general manager Jerry Krause and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf. ‘The Last Dance’ is a name given by former coach Phil Jackson when the Chicago Bulls attempted to win their sixth NBA Championship in 1997-1998. This sports documentary is a must watch for not just basketball fans but for anyone who enjoys sports.
Directed by Asif Kapadia, Ayrton Senna was a three time Formula One racing champion before his untimely death at the age of 34 in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Senna’s documentary was released in 2010 and captures his career right from his debut at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix to a decade later and sheds some light on his rivalry with Alain Prost. It features a ton of emotional footage provided by Senna’s family, especially when Senna speaks about the sport’s safety when fellow Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger loses his life a day before Senna tragically suffers the same fate. The documentary has won numerous awards, winning a BAFTA for the best documentary and editing and the Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America among many others.
Diego Maradona (2019)
Diego Maradona is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the sport. The talented Argentinian’s life was far from straightforward, with allegations of cheating, drug use and infidelity that surrounded Maradona throughout his career. This 2019 British documentary gives a rare insight of Maradona’s life and achievements with carefully compiled archival footage from various sources. Asif Kapadia’s handiwork has shone through this documentary which was first featured in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Icarus is an insightful documentary that delves into the world of illegal doping in sports. Directed by Bryan Fogel, Icarus starts off with Fogel exploring the option of using performance enhancing drugs to win an amateur cycling competition, leading to developing a connection with Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov which opens the door to an even bigger scandal, Russia’s state sponsored Olympic doping program.
The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.
The Dawn Wall (2017)
History was made in 2015 when daredevil climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson free climbed the legendary Dawn Wall section of El Capitan, a 3000 foot granite rock formation in Yosemite National Park. What makes this documentary so special is that it gives the viewer a feeling of being right there, amidst all the action, drama and sheer athleticism. Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, the co-directors of the documentary are climbers themselves and have done a fantastic job to capture their 19 days climb on an unforgiving piece of rock.
It perfectly encapsulates some essential human qualities such as patience, perseverance, resilience and the bravery to follow your dreams. It’s a beautiful representation of defying all odds to achieve the impossible and the documentary does a great job capturing all these emotions.
My goal is to win a gold medal at the World Boxing Championship
Boxing sensation Arundhati Choudhary recently made history to become the first ever female boxer from Rajasthan to clinch a gold medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships. She has come a long way from being an IIT aspirant to a state level basketball player and now a renowned boxer and is setting her sights higher to achieve more glory.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Arundhati Choudhary speaks about her journey so far, winning the AIBA Youth World Championships, the importance of mental health, her future goals and advice to the next generation of boxers.
Coming from IIT city of India Kota, how did you end up playing Boxing?
I used to play basketball in the fifth grade and due to my height my physical training teacher selected me for basketball. I have played state level Basketball as well. When I was named in the Nationals, my father said that I could perform really well in solo sports because in a team game one needs team support and suggested three sports - Boxing, Wrestling and Badminton. I have been quite aggressive in my nature right since my childhood. I asked him about each of the games and when he told me about boxing, I was so fascinated by it, that I decided to pick the sport as it compliments my nature really well and I can truly perform well.
How did it feel to script this historic win at the AIBA Youth World Championships ?
I'm really very happy. I was a part of the Indian team which in itself was a matter of great joy for me and the fact that I also played a role in history that our Indian girls scripted by winning 7 gold medals makes me happy. I'm very thankful to BFI, SAI, (Rohtak), Rajasthan Boxing Federation and my Academy for supporting me so much. It is because of them that I was able to achieve a gold medal.
How did you prepare for the Championship given the Covid-19 restrictions in India?
Yes training in the pandemic was quite difficult, but I worked really hard. No doubt the COVID situation was tough for a lot of people including me but from a training point of view, it went really well. My father has built a boxing hall for me in the school he is a chairman of and I worked very hard in it. I would train two times a day - in the morning and in the evening as my only target was winning gold in the World Championships.
You have won three gold medals at the Khelo India Games and won gold medals in 60 kg, 66 kg and 69 kg categories. What is your most special achievement so far?
Yes, I have won gold medals in all three Khelo India Games. However, speaking of special achievements, the World Championship was the most special one because while we had an Asian Championship in 2019, I wasn't keeping well and because of that I wasn't able to perform well and could only win a bronze medal. I was pretty upset that I could only bag a bronze medal for my country when I was totally capable of winning the gold. Nevertheless, up till now the most special of my achievements were the Youth World Championship only.
How big of a role does mental health play in a boxer's life?
Mental health plays a very important role in a boxer's life. You can’t do anything without being mentally strong and a boxer has to learn both winning and losing. It’s a lot more difficult to remain strong when you lose but it’s more important because the challenges increase. We have to improve our level, train harder so mental health plays a very important role.
Who are the Boxers you look up to as your idols?
I don’t have other boxers as idols because I believe that if I see someone’s struggle in front of my eyes, I consider them my inspiration and role model. I have heard of other boxers but I have seen the struggle of my parents and coach in front of my eyes which is why my inspiration is my father because he has struggled a lot and continues to do so to this day. He has complete faith that the struggles he is going through today will lead to a big accomplishment in the future and I share his mentality.
What are you next looking forward to? How do you feel about being selected for the senior training camp in Pune?
I’m very happy about my selection in Pune because I’m getting the chance to work alongside renowned players such as Mary Kom and Lovlina because I’ll get to learn their techniques and make improvements on my mistakes with their guidance. My target is to get selected for the World Championships which will be held later this year and win a gold medal for our country.
Any message for the youngsters, especially girls who aspire to have a career in boxing?
Discipline is extremely important for boxers along with determination and dedication. Without the desire to win it’s impossible to be competitive in this sport. Discipline is also fundamental because without maintaining a proper diet and getting adequate rest, it will be impossible to achieve anything. It’s important to have the 3D’s which stand for discipline, determination and dedication.
Extreme E's documentary series 'Electric Odyssey' hits global screens
London: The brand new electric off-road racing series, Extreme E is creating a magazine show – Electric Odyssey – to tell the stories of the Championship surrounding racing, its equality stance and its missions around the environment and climate change.
Two of the twenty episodes are now available to watch - with the third episode being released today - on TV screens through a wide board of global broadcasters in 180 nations which includes ITV in the UK, FOX in the US, Canada and Asia, TV2 in Hungary, Cosmote in Greece, ORF in Austria, SuperSport in Africa and TVNZ in New Zealand.
The 26-minute episodes target the climatically aware viewers with a passion for adventure, and with terrific behind-the-scenes access regarding the building and progression of this innovative motorsport, the shows take the viewers on a journey through all of the Championships racing action along with sporting insight and its stories of climate change, sustainability, science and exploration to keep the dialogue alive between each X Prix.
Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E, said: “Electric Odyssey is a great series creating additional depth to the storytelling of the championship and extending the conversation outside of our five events in 2021. The plethora of behind-the-scenes sports shows focusing on football, basketball and Formula One for example show the appetite for this kind of content. But more than that, launches of channels like WaterBear – home to Extreme E content – demonstrates the importance of telling the wider stories of the series outside motorsport.
“I’m delighted that so many of our global broadcast partners are airing this unique content that gives a true insight to the people and personalities behind our unique sport for purpose.”
The episodes are being crafted by Extreme E Studios – a joint venture between Aurora Media and North One and air from now till January 2022. The shows will also feature stories of every racing location, Extreme E’s floating centrepiece the St. Helena along with the environmental crisis and the climate issues each race aims to bring into limelight.
Chris Carpenter, Senior Producer at Aurora Media said: “Extreme E isn’t like many other sporting properties, there’s so much more narrative than just the racing. The Electric Odyssey series gives us a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper into the many other aspects of this championship.
“It’s not just a sports magazine show - it’s a hybrid of content. Along with the incredible racing we’ll be including features about climate science, adventure travel, sustainable technologies and cultural & historical insights. All with the incredible natural back-drop of each event location.
“It’s going to be quite the adventure to make the series but a challenge we are relishing.”
The second and third episodes focus on Extreme E’s debut X Prix in Saudi Arabia, which highlight desertification and the series' Legacy Programme to support turtle conservation in The Red Sea.
Lac Rose is Extreme E's next stop in Dakar, Senegal for the Ocean X Prix. The Electric Odyssey shows regarding this race will underline climate challenges in the area, the ocean crisis as well as the Legacy Programmes that include planting one million mangroves along with supporting local community project EcoZone, and of course all the motorsporting action featuring some of the greatest names in motorsport.
Great infrastructure, qualified coaches and exposure is key for development at the grassroot level
Sports have always played an important role in uniting the community. In a digital era of smartphones and social media, sports at the grassroot level not only provides some much needed physical activity for children but also paves the way for a thriving sports ecosystem for the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Arnold Wilson the Business Head of India On Track spoke about what it takes to make India a sporting nation, the challenges faced at the grassroot level, adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing more Indians compete at the highest level and his future goals.
You have been associated with India on Track for almost 7 years, in your experience what does India as a country need to become a sporting nation?
There are many things that are needed for our nation to be inclined towards sports. For starters, changing the thought process of parents and making them look at sports as an equally important factor as education by emphasizing the effects of sport on a child’s mental well being and overall health. Sports prepare children for the world because it involves discipline, commitment, winning and more importantly it teaches them how to overcome losing. Hence sports should not be considered as an add on or only a hobby class. To make India a sporting nation, multiple factors need to come together simultaneously. One of them is accessible sports infrastructure, second is to have coaches who can train at the grassroot level, academy level and elite level and the third is exposure. Exposure to playing and competing at a very young age by participating in tournaments within your communities to competing at the highest level is extremely important in order to represent India at the global level. In Argentina, kids start participating in football baby leagues before the age of 5 years, so you can imagine how many competitive games they’ve played by the time they represent their country in the Under 17 age category. The most critical part is to create enough and more grassroot opportunities for children. Opportunities for the kids to play, practice and train continuously is fundamental to becoming a sporting nation. It’s a lot of things and it’s difficult to put in one answer.
What are the different types of grassroot training programmes that you have been a part of?
We started with Arsenal Soccer Schools after which we worked with the NBA to create & launch NBA Basketball School in India. The NBA Basketball School philosophy is to share the game of basketball with young athletes across the world by teaching skills, values, and wellness in a positive and fun environment. The holistic approach is intended to strengthen the culture of youth basketball, teach life lessons, and empower young athletes to succeed both on and off the court. We have also worked with Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools and since the last 3 years we’ve been running LaLiga Football Schools across the country. We also have an International Football Development Programme where we partner with a Portuguese top division football club called G.D Estoril Praia and we have been sending talented children to Lisbon to train at the club and become part of the youth academy system. It gives them good exposure to football at the highest level and we also take care of their stay and food along with education from a school in Estoril. We also run an extensive grassroots development programme for Major League Baseball in India. Lastly, we successfully ran the inaugural ISL Children’s League in Kolkata which had 100 schools and clubs participate with an approximate attendance of 4000 students playing in the 4 month league across 4 age groups.
What are the world class training and condition techniques that India on Track implements in their grassroot initiatives?
When we partner with the NBA or LaLiga, the technical delivery is completely led by our global partners since they are market leaders in terms of their understanding of the sport and how these development programs are supposed to run. Both NBA and LaLiga have a large global network running various training programmes in many different geographies. In order to ensure the programme is delivered as per International standards, LaLiga & NBA recommend experienced licensed coaches who are part of the partner’s global network ensuring the technical product is never compromised. All of LaLiga’s coaches are UEFA license holders, these coaching licences are mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football. We also have national and regional ‘Train the Trainer’ programmes where coaches learn the training methodologies of LaLiga Football Schools & NBA Basketball School to ensure the quality of the training program is consistent across the country. It’s an extremely strong and robust system in place. As an organization we give utmost priority to the safety, security and comfort of the children and we have a strict code of conduct not just for the coaches but also the children and parents. Our curriculums are designed as age appropriate training, with clearly defined student to coach ratio. Lastly, all team members, coaches and managers go through a safeguarding training workshop before they start working directly with children.
In a cricket crazy country like India, how challenging has it been to promote sports such as football, basketball and badminton at the grassroot level?
Promoting sports in India is challenging for various reasons, but primarily parents want to ensure their children completely focus on education to ensure their future is secured. Sports is often considered as a distraction (especially around the time of examinations) with the exception of cricket because of the strong career path the sport has to offer in India. However, a trend that we have noticed in the past 5 years is that parents are now far more open to sports other than cricket. Some parents have started to look at sports as an important aspect for holistic development, some look at it as a hobby, a way children can enjoy themselves without expecting it to be a career option. These are positive indications of a changing mindset of parents, which is critical for the future of grassroots development in India.
There are several onground issues such as lack of proper training facilities, availability of these facilities, pricing structure, timing & days of the training sessions etc. Every challenge is unique in its own way depending on the partner school, catchment area, city etc hence we have to ensure the solution is customized to that specific challenge because all grassroots programmes are distinctively different from the other. By converting more schools to adopt our grassroots programs, the parents automatically come along. Even though we live in a cricket crazy country, there is enough room for everyone.
How are you/ India on Track adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue the work at the grassroot level?
In mid March last year, 10 days before the government introduced the lockdown, we had already taken a call to shut our centers because safety of the children is of the utmost importance. Before the lockdown, we had 70 centers across 13 states in approximately 17 cities and we were training over 4000 children at the time. Since all programmes were shut, we started online training sessions in a similar format to the on ground sessions. Each batch would have 20 to 25 children with two coaches for a duration of 60 minutes. We came up with session plans by working very closely with our partners such as LaLiga and NBA that were specifically designed for children to train by themselves in a small space available with or without having a ball. The objective is to keep children engaged while also prioritizing their safety. We also created different marketing campaigns and approached more than a thousand schools about the online programs and offered free workshops for the students. Our pricing was very affordable at an average cost of Rs 100 per session; we offered multiple packages that included 4 or 12 group sessions along with 1 on 1 training packages.
Post June - July, the participation numbers started to dip due to the commencement of online schooling so we had to re-innovate and created the India On Track Online Sports Festival. The first edition was held in August and was a week-long calendar of activities with participation from NBA Basketball School, LaLiga Football Schools, Major League Baseball First Pitch and Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools. Special sessions held with the likes of Princepal Singh (NBA Academy graduate) who conducted a masterclass training session followed by an informative session. Similarly we had LaLiga Canada's Technical Director, Diego Gutierrez lead a session on the importance of mental health and nutrition. We had industry experts from different parts of America, Spain, China, UAE, Canana who conducted special informative and engaging sessions for our students. In May this year we will host the 3rd edition of the online sports festival. We also got the parents engaged by hosting special sessions for Father’s day, Mother’s day, Women’s day and even birthday celebrations to keep the spirits up.
Which are the top sporting entities that India on Track have been associated with to redefine sports and philosophy?
We have been associated with the LaLiga, NBA, Major League Baseball, we also partner with Roland Garros, not specifically for work at the grassroot level but we run various digital initiatives for them. We also run the International Football Development Program with G.D. Estoril Praia. Over the last 4 years we’ve worked closely with Star Sports to create and execute various on ground experiences for their global partnerships and Indian properties. Since the inception of the Indian Super League we worked very closely with the Pune franchise running major portfolios for the first 3 years. I ran the grassroots initiatives of FC Pune City which is where I got the opportunity to be part of Premier League’s Premier Skills coaching courses. These are only a few of India On Track’s associations with global sporting entities that I’ve been directly involved with.
What would it take to raise the standard of football and basketball and see more Indian athletes compete at the highest level?
It would be great if we have a structured national basketball league for men and women that has a structured grassroots system integrated as a participation criteria. With regards to football at the highest level, it’s important to figure out the merger between the I-League and Indian Super League but at the grass root level, it’s critical that the teams with a presence at all the levels of the I-League or ISL are ensuring they have a strong grassroots system in place. It’s a pyramid structure where the base being a vast grassroots programme on top of which you can build a youth academy format which feeds into the elite training that eventually contributes to creating the reserve team. This should be the ideal structure that should be followed but implementing this is dependent on the funding and the money behind the league and the teams. It’s easier said than done because ISL teams are struggling financially and the objective is to save money to buy players who can make an immediate impact because survival is the priority. Multiple ISL teams have either changed ownerships and have even changed cities due to financial issues, hence survival will always be a bigger priority than investment in the grassroot. Creating a pyramid structure with a strong grassroots system is critical because without that, clubs will be forced to rely on hotbeds of talent and won’t be able to connect with their own community and develop local footballers.
What is your goal in terms of development at the grassroot level? What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I want to be a part of creating the complete pyramid structure which has a strong grassroots system, youth academy centres and elite training programmes. But purely looking at grassroots development I want to partner with thousands of schools across the country and explain to parents that sports keeps children mentally healthy and prepares them with key life lessons at a very young age. Today, your passion for sports can be turned into a viable career option. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue your dreams and make a living out of it. The messaging has to be very clear to parents, schools and of course children.
Through our existing programmes we’ve managed to now create development centres that basically host the top talented students coming out of the grassroots programmes. Students from these development centres have now started to compete and gain exposure at a local level such as playing in Mumbai District Football Association. Students across our LaLiga Football Schools training programmes get scholarship opportunities to train with a LaLiga club, enabling them to get exposure at an International level. Similarly we hope to create a similar format for students training in the NBA Basketball School programme where they get exposure training in the NBA Academy.
In order to tap into a larger talent pool we want to work closely with schools and governments. We are currently running a 2000 students government project in Tripura out of which 400 talented students will be training at Development Centers. We are excited about the talent we will discover as most of them are tribal kids and are very eager to learn. We hope that more such students progress from one level to another and it’s a model that others can adopt. I also want to be connected with clubs, federations and top academies like Reliance Foundation which is the gold standard of a training academy in India. We are building a network so that talent can move into the space they should be and expand the network Internationally in the longer run.
Data should drive good contest in cricket, says Rahul Dravid
Electric race series Extreme E expands its digital reach in China
According to a press release by Extreme E, the brand new electric race series which made its much awaited championship debut in Saudi Arabia this weekend, confirmed today that China’s CCTV.com will also air the remaining four X Prixs through its sports platform.
CCTV.com is the online portal of China Media Group (CMG) and its sports platform is widely acclaimed as the first choice for sports lovers with its timely and fine coverage of top events such as Formula One, the Olympic Games, the Winter Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Football as well as tennis, basketball along with many others.
Along with being aired live on CCTV.com, Extreme E’s exciting race footage can also be availed on Cbox and New TV, CMG’s fun and interesting apps which enables Chinese viewers to interact between large screen and small screen devices, and hence enhance the user experience while watching sport.
Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E, said: “We are delighted to have confirmed Extreme E’s broadcast on China’s CCTV.com as well as being available on its state-of-the-art apps, Cbox and New TV - these are hugely exciting technologies that will bring an even greater audience to our championship. One of the missions of Extreme E is to highlight climate issues and encourage change and we can only do that by reaching as many viewers as possible.
“In addition, I’m confident that CCTV’s sport loving viewers will be thrilled by our innovative race format whilst at the same time, be fascinated to learn the stories behind the series.”
Extreme E is a sporting event with a purpose and aims to bring into the limelight the climate emergency that is affecting the entire world. By touring five distant destinations this year, starting with Saudi Arabia, followed by Senegal, Greenland, Brazil and Patagonia – all of which have been adversely hit by the climate crisis - the event will highlight the devastation caused by climate issues, and encourage change, while leaving behind a long sustaining positive impact by its Legacy Programmes.
Besides, racers compete in an all-electric SUV – ODYSSEY 21 – to advocate the benefits of e-mobility, and as the biggest names in electric vehicle production and sales, it is important to bring China on this endeavor and continue to display new technologies.
The series also features a unique viewing format, as races will take place without spectators and aired as two-hour programs in an effort to minimize the championship’s carbon footprint. Not just that, the championship will transport the racing equipment by sea on its floating centerpiece, the wonderful St. Helena which will soon leave Saudi Arabia and move forward on its journey to Senegal for the Ocean X Prix starting from 29-30 May.