Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45



Sport in India has really come a long way from being a voluntary pastime to a rewarding career that it is today.

Sports come naturally to some people, but to most others it could still be developed at least to a reasonable level with proper techniques and training. In the evolution of man from hunters to the modern day, activities such as running, throwing or even warding off physical dangers have come to reflect today in the sports that we play.

Sport is an exciting and healthy pastime to many, but if sport is really ones passion it can be a very rewarding and satisfying career too.

If one has to look at the growth and development of sport in India, 1982 was a water shed year. The Asian Games hosted at Delhi provided new infrastructure like modern stadia and holistic and fulsome training and coaching structure with the onset of Sports Authority of India. Media covered the Games in a big way and television beamed matches live to homes.

All these aspects were replicated at a much higher scale and magnitude during the Common Wealth Games in 2010 providing spurt to sport on the whole in the country.

India: Emerging Sports Destination

In between India has hosted numerous other big ticket sporting events like the two cricket world cups (1996 and 2011), formula one race, yearly ATP event the Chennai Open Tennis etc.
Besides top football clubs like Bayern Munich have come to India along with the Argentina football team.

This is also happening partly because India is seen as a major emerging sport destination having untapped potential both in terms of player talents and a huge market.

Then there are successful players like Sachin Tendulkar, Abhinav Bindra, RVS Rathore,Sushil Kumar, Viswanathan Anand, Mary Kom and many others who have raised the profile of sports people in India and have attracted youth to take up their respective games as a full time passion.
All this has resulted in a huge demand for people in sport.

The growth is happening two fold. At one level, government through the National Sports Policy is investing heavily in sports and also by organising top events the facilities are getting better every day.
Secondly, growth has also accelerated because of the private sector realising sport as an important part of not only their corporate social responsibility (CSR) but also a valid investment for their own promotion.

Private sports regulatory bodies like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with the successful organisation of the Indian Premier league have showed the way for other sport federations too to look for corporate sponsored events.

To be a sportsperson: How to approach

It is always good to identify career in sports as young as one can. This is more crucial if one is aspiring to be a sportsperson.

One of the better options to look for training is the various facilities of the Sports Authority of India. More about SAI is discussed later in the article. Usually the entry is at the 12th level. One can begin career at the amateur level and start participating in the State level, regional level and finally graduate to the National level. While SAI is at the National level, it has various State level branches that cater to the regional sport talents. Other than this there are various State level organisations that look after nurturing sporting talents. In most cases, the government bears the cost of training and in bringing in top level coaches. For example, the SAI centre in Patiala has four core disciplines like boxing and often coaches from Cuba and other countries are hired to provide best training. Obviously, government bears the cost for these coaches and other training facilities. Most of the SAI programmes also have scholarships and student supports and students can also look for financial assistance.

Age group competitions are a good starting point for a beginner sportsperson.

As said above, being a sportsperson is not the only option available. One can train to be a coach, physiotherapist, sports medicine practitioner, physical trainers, sports journalist, public relations practitioner, sports manager, administrator, sports event managers and so on.

Who is eligible to be a sportsperson? :-
Physical and Mental Traits required

If spotted and trained early, almost everyone among us has the talent to excel in some sport at a reasonable level. But to some people sport come naturally and it becomes their passion as well. If one is passionate about sport that is the first starting point.

Sport is career that requires lifetime of dedication and there is no point entering the field half-heartedly.

Most of the games require strong physical attributes. This doesn’t mean that one has to be born with it, the whole purpose of training and coaching is to attune the body to its optimum level and imbibe the excellence in skills for top results. One definitely has to be physically strong, agile and flexible among other qualities and for that the very basic eligibility is the ability to work hard on fitness.
Strong work ethics and perseverance are the key qualities that will take a person far ahead in his or her sporting career.

But sport is not physical only, coaches around the world will tell that games are played between the years, that is, they are high on mental quotient as well.

One has to be tough mentally, show a lot of patience at the sport, have a right mix of aggression and cool mindedness and be intelligent enough to grab the little chances that come their way and use it to come out the winner. That’s what separates a champion from the also-rans, the margin is thin.

Sport is a great teacher in life and the biggest characteristic coaches want their wards to imbibe is the ‘spirit of the game’or the sporting spirit. It is not something tangible, but it comes out from respect for the opponents and spirit of fair play.


Sport also builds team spirit and bonding and leadership qualities as well.

These are few of the physical and mental aspects that a sportsperson seeks to learn, build and improve throughout their careers.

Professional prospects

There are various exciting careers available for people pursuing sport and it is not limited to playing the game actively as the only professional prospect available to them.

Other than being a player, one can be coach, trainer, journalist, medicine practitioner, etc. Some of the most popular professional and job prospects are enlisted below.


If one excels in a particular sport and has the right work ethics, few other professions can be as satisfying as that of a sportsperson.

Just like Elena Isinbayeva, the famous polevaulter, one has to keep raising the bar and if successful, the joy and pride that comes through by it can be hardly found anywhere else.
Every game has its National team, and that is where a young athlete / sportsperson should aim to find a place in.

Once a career as a sportsperson is identified, one has to gradually move up the ladder with intensive training and hard work.

Playing right at the top, at the international level is immensely rewarding. One is usually paid well to lead a good life. Besides, there are sponsorships and jobs, both government and private reserved for sportsperson of high calibre.

The range of monetary benefits vary a lot from sport to sport. Games like Cricket, Golf, Motor Sports, Tennis, international football, etc. are highly paid.

While most of the other games may not get one millions but still something that is above average.

Money however is never the first aim and is not the only reward for sportspersons.

The pride, joy and self-fulfilment that come with bringing top honours for oneself and the country at large is irreplaceable.

Also a lot of government jobs are assured for sportspersons at the national level.
A sportspersons playing career doesn’t last lifetime. But once active playing is over, one can look for coaching, managing and other jobs.

(The author is a sports journalist with reporting experience of well known sports events including Olympics and Cricket World Cup.                                                                                                                  e-mail: vidhanshu@ hotmail. com)

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