National athletics coach N. Ramesh urged sports observers at the Sportstar Conclave Focus Telangana in Hyderabad to not compare disciplines as each sport comes with its own challenges and that the strategy of producing champions has to change.
Moderator S. Prasanth, partner at KPMG — knowledge partner of Sportstar Conclave — set the ball rolling by speaking about the growing stature of Indian sports, embellished further by the staggering exploits of the 4x400 men’s relay team and javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra at the recently concluded 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. “Not just athletics, several memorable wins in hockey and football too recently have catapulted India to a higher echelon. Telangana has always been at the heart of this surge. Be it in badminton, football or cricket, you name it and they’re there. Today we want to understand how, through investments in infrastructure and promotion of sporting culture at grassroots, we can better the future of sports in Telangana.”
Meanwhile, Ramesh said, “Each game presents distinct challenges, and when it comes to sports, we must consider the geographical and economic factors that impact them. The aim should be to involve one crore young individuals in the sport, with the hope that some of them will eventually reach the highest level of competition.”
The coach noted that after a sportsperson wins a world event, there is usually a windfall of sponsorships and financial rewards. However, Ramesh said that corporate sponsors should back players before they become champions.
“After becoming a champion, everything will be given but we should change the strategy and provide everything to sportspersons to become champions,” he said.
Celebrated Indian football legend and former captain Victor Amalraj opined that the sport in Telangana is struggling and hoped football can gain prominence in the years to come.
“From Hyderabad nine footballers represented India in the Olympics and there was a lot of grassroots culture. But now there is a lack of infrastructure and Telangana football is struggling. Very unfortunate that football culture is not popular in Telangana and I hope the situation improves,” Amalraj said.
Varun Tripuraneni, co-owner of Hyderabad FC said that the introduction of ISL has been a boon as the city-based side went on to win the league in 2021-22.
“ISL is a platform and the focus is on the grassroots level and that’s going to be the key. A lot more is to be done and it’s going to take all the stakeholders to work towards the upliftment of football,” he said.
Prasad Mangipudi, co-founder of Premier Badminton League (PBL) was elated with the rise of badminton in India, especially the state of Telangana contributing a majority of the shuttlers in the Indian team.
“Almost 80 per cent of the Indian team comprises badminton players from Telangana and the challenge will be to sustain and stay at the top,” he said.
The Conclave is being held in association with Hero We Care — a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, Carrera, Indian Oil, ISBC, NTPC, Khan Study Group, KPMG, Sprint Diagnostics, Sneha Fresh Chicken, Great Sports Tech, Epione and NewsX. The day-long event can be followed live on sportstar.thehindu.com.
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