The business of sports is as important as sports itself. It is a crucial factor deciding how big a sport is going to be in the long run. So when a big name in the business of sports in India, Joy Bhattacharjya came calling, to participate in the 3rd edition of Playwrite sports literature fest, organised by The Playwrite Foundation in Chandigarh recently, we were all ears.
Besides being a celebrated quiz master, Bhattacharjya, who has been Team Director of IPL franchisee Kolkatta Knight Riders (KKR) for nearly seven years; Project Director, Local Organising Committee, 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India; and currently is CEO, Professional Volleyball League, explained that sport is a pyramid, the base of which naturally needs to be very strong.
Photo By : Life In Chandigarh
“People virtually worship their sporting icons, but what most of them do not realise is that it takes hundreds of lesser heroes at the lower levels to create one big hero at the highest level,” he remarked.
Sports need to be imbibed as a culture, he said while giving the example of Latin American countries Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, which between themselves have won nine Football World Cups. “Most of the greats of the game these countries have produced started learning to play on the streets. That’s sports culture for you!”
He was in conversation with Chitranjan Agarwal, co-founder of The Playwrite Foundation and a big time sports enthusiast, in the session on ‘The Business of Sports’. The theme of Playwrite in this Tokyo Olympics year was ‘Living The Olympic Dream’.
Emphasising that parents need to get more proactive in encouraging and motivating their children to indulge and excel in professional sports of their choice, Bhattacharjya said the parents should be out there in the field with them, egging them on in their pursuit of excellence.
Pointing out that the good old PT or sports teachers in schools are not given their due, he said it is high time we start giving them the respect they deserve, just like we do to Maths, Science or English teachers, so that they get motivated to bring out the best in their trainees. “This is extremely important if we want to bring a sports revolution in this country. The school is where we need to start,” he asserted.
Tracing the initial journey of IPL, the sports administrator said India’s memorable victory in the first T20 World Cup final in 2007, with Pakistan’s dream ending after Misba-ul-Haq cooped up a catch, was the trigger for the IPL. “Initially no one knew how big or small the league would be. But, the memorable innings of 158 by Brendon McCullum for KKR vs Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008 killed all speculation regarding the success of the league, and it went from strength to strength thereafter.”
Regarding the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, he shared that there were initial doubts in people’s mind about hosting such a big tournament in a country considered not a good enough football-playing nation. “After the success of FIFA U-17 World Cup, which got 11 million school children playing football under ‘Mission Eleven Million’, a transformational school outreach programme, every sport wants to come to India, which is the largest untapped market for any sport. It is only we who are holding ourselves back,” he stressed.
Maintaining that football is a very important game for India, considering that it is among the simplest games to play, he expressed confidence that the game has a bright future in the country. “Football is on its way.”
While striking a note of optimism regarding the future of all sports in the country, he observed that there are enough people in the country wanting to indulge professionally in a lot of sports, and parents ready to support them, but the biggest impediment is the inability of people at the helm in many federations to think big regarding their sport. “But, they won’t let go of their positions either,” he rued.
Bhattacharjya strongly advocated putting sports in the concurrent list to bring the central government in the forefront of sports. Being a state subject, different states have their own sports policies because of which there is no cohesion of thought and action, he said.
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