India’s tennis legend Leander Paes, who turned 48 in June, is now busy off-court, building a community through sports, educating the youth, and creating jobs.
“I think they need to build champions, and to build a healthier nation is to educate our parents, educate the children, educate the young professionals that a career in sport is an option and to show the different varieties of jobs that are in sport,” he told Sportstar .
“The physical training that we used to do in schools was quite archaic…. how do you build Olympic champions doing that? So for me, the knowledge of sports education is what we need in India,” he added.
Coming from a family of international sports champions, Paes now feels it is time to lead beyond the court and wants to use sports education platforms to make a difference in the community.
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His latest venture, Sporjo, is a one-stop destination for building a successful career in the Indian sports industry.
Non-cricket leagues, such as the badminton and kabaddi leagues and most recently the Esports league, have led to a shift in sport investment.
“I think when you combine the two-- sports education and sports jobs, I think this is the best platform to make a difference to 745 million children that we have in our own country, who are under the age of 26,” Paes said.
“I think that that target audience is huge, that even if I can get a fraction of that it would be a job well done.”
Based on the tenet of transforming passion into a profession in sports, the company aims to create an ecosystem of half a million professionals to support the Indian sports industry by 2030.
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“While the sports industry is in its infancy in India, the landscape has witnessed a significant transformation in the last decade,” said G Srinivvasan, Founder and CEO of Sporjo.
Paes also explained how devastating COVID-19 was for sports and sports professionals and how the post-pandemic scenario may look in sports.
“For me, I've lost 58 of my really close family friends, and that's in the last 16 months. And this, you know, COVID-19 virus has been quite devastating in many ways. But I think that humans are very resilient,” he said.
“Now as the bubbles are opening up and people are getting back to regular life, I think it's very important for people like myself to make the bigger difference … to use the sporting ecosystem to create that vehicle through sports and create jobs.”