Vijay Goel: ‘Private sector and foreign investment vital for growth of sports’

Sports Minister Vijay Goel speaks to us about the ministry's role in the SportEx.Asia-2017 international conference and its expectations.

“Events like these provide a professional leverage in improving the sports culture”, said Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel about the SportEx.Asia-2017 conference in New Delhi.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Hoping to develop sports as a sector in the country and encapsulating every area including development of the sports industry and brand engagement, a two-day SportEx.Asia-2017 international conference is being held here on March 2-3.

Supported by the Sports Ministry, the conference is expected to focus on investments in sporting assets as well as association of brands with their target markets. Sports Minister Vijay Goel spoke to Sportstar about the ministry's role in the event and its expectations:

Question: What is the significance of this event?

Answer: Sports, being a sunrise sector, is slated to grow 10 times in India over the next few years. The SportEx.Asia conference will provide a platform for various stakeholders including the Ministry, corporates, foreign investors, media and advertising companies as well as sports federations and owners of various clubs across leagues to interact, discuss existing and new opportunities and associate with sports in the medium and long run.

What is the importance of corporate involvement in the event?

The corporates are investing in various leagues and the teams. Leagues like the Indian Super League (ISL), Pro Kabbadi League (PKL), Super Fight League (SFL) and Pro Wrestling League (PWL) have begun making money. Private sector and foreign investment is playing a key role in this. More and more leagues are likely to be announced in the coming years.

How will it improve the sports culture in India?

Events like these provide a professional leverage in improving the sports culture. It would encourage the masses, especially the youth, in taking up sports as careers instead of being only for entertainment. As more capital flows in, money will flow into talent identification and nurturing. Once sportspersons start doing well, they will become role models and the sports culture will receive a fillip.

But the programme doesn't list any sportsperson at the event.

That's not true. There would be quite a few sportspersons present at a personal and professional level. These include Cdr AA Pednekar (racquet sports), Omkar Singh (shooting), RK Patra (gymnastics), Sandeep Tomar (wrestling), Surjeet Narwal and Nitin Tomar (kabaddi). Pullela Gopichand would also be attending a special meeting. Interactions would be both formal and informal. The second day would focus on identification and nurturing talent with coaches from Railways and the armed forces also attending.