Sportstar National Conclave: Nikhat, Anurag Thakur lead discussions on roadmap for sporting success

sports star hosted the first-ever national sports conclave in New Delhi on Monday, where a variety of speakers from different sports disciplines identified vexing problems in various disciplines and ways to improve playing conditions.

The opportunity was honored by Nikhat Zareen, who won her second gold at the World Boxing Championships on Sunday. Nikhat said: “I am mentally very strong to face any challenges that come my way. My goal is to win an Olympic medal for my country. After the Olympic Games in Paris I don’t know if I will continue boxing. I don’t want any regrets going to Paris. I work hard for Paris. It’s my biggest dream.”

Anurag Thakur, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sport, delivered the keynote address on “Khelo India – Achieving excellence in sports”. “In the past 18 months we have launched Khelo India leagues for women in all sports and have seen tremendous success. I think the WPL (Women’s Premier League) 2023 was extremely successful. It has opened the gates for many organizations who may be considering whether or not to start a women’s league. There are many prospects for female athletes in the country,” said Thakur.



New Delhi, 03/27/2023. Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur speaks during the Sportstar National Sports Conclave in New Delhi, Monday March 27, 2023. | Photo credit: MOORTHY RV

Sandip Pradhan, DG, Sports Authority of India gave an overview of the plan for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. “The difference between the previous TOPS and this TOPS is that we involved a lot of athletes – elite athletes. So we take the experience with us because they suffered and didn’t get support in time. Rather than deciding everything, we require the ex-champion athletes and committee members to interact with the federations and stakeholders to set the roadmap for India’s journey,” he said.

Meanwhile, attending the session virtually, weightlifter and Olympic silver medalist Mirabai Chanu shed light on the challenges of a sporting career in Manipur. She pointed out the lack of modern infrastructure and attributed the success of the athletes there to their own will.

(RL) Former cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Pandey (Chairman of Global Creative & Executive Chairman India, Ogilvy) Amit Mehta (Head Marketing BJYU’s) Bharatendu Kabu, Head of Corporate Communication Hero MotoCorp and Suresh Balakrishna (CRO The Hindu) during the Sportstar National Sports Conclave in New Delhi. | Photo credit: MOORTHY RV

In another panel discussion on The power of sport and its superstars in brand building, former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh praised the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the financial security it offers to all those involved in the game. “A lot has changed since I started as a player. Opportunities come after our playing career and IPL has done a lot of that,” she said. “A lot of us have jobs because of it [IPL] on several levels and in many roles. Pehle jaise nahin hai, ki when you retire pata nahin banda kahan gaya (It’s not like before when you didn’t know where a player was after he retired).”

Adille Sumariwalla, President of the Indian Athletics Confederation, who was present in a discussion on sports federations, revealed how he transformed the way the athletics federation works by embracing a corporate culture that focused on two things: “First, create an ecosystem and focus on the base on one side and Elite on the other. The reason is that if you don’t have top athletes, you don’t have anyone to look up to and you won’t get athletes at grassroots level.

“Athletics has 50 events. We can’t track them all. So we shortlisted events and then brought in foreign coaches. The reason for bringing foreign coaches was that their knowledge in sports science, sports medicine etc. is much better than many of our coaches as many of our coaches do not have science background.”

There was also an invigorating session on Balancing Achievements On and Off The Field In Sports Leagues, featuring Vita Dani (Co-Owner, Chennaiyin FC; Chair, Ultimate Table Tennis), Anupam Goswami (League Commissioner, PKL) and Jose Antonio Cachaza attended by Pereiro (Managing Director, LaLiga India) and Joy Bhattacharjya (CEO, PVL).

Speaking separately on the importance of public-private partnerships in sports development, Manisha Malhotra (Head – Sports Excellence and Scouting, JSW Sports Pvt Ltd) said: “Everyone wants a medal very quickly and it’s very hard to come by, so we need it Companies that have a long-term vision to see it through. We don’t sell the thought of a medal, we focus on an athlete’s journey.”

New Delhi, 03/27/2023. Joy Bhattacharjya (CEO of PVL) during Sportstar National Sports Conclave in New Delhi. | Photo credit: MOORTHY RV

Vineel Krishna, Minister for Sports and Youth Services, offered a different perspective. “Sport is a costly affair and it will take a lot of money to train talent at a high level, we cannot expect companies to fund it on such a large scale. That kind of money has to come from the government and they have to increase the funding for the sport, and we’ve done that. Five years ago our budget was Rs 150 crore, now it is Rs 1500 crore,” he said.

There was an interesting conversation about harnessing the potential of sport for social development, with Mallika Nadda, President of Special Olympics Bharat, speaking about the challenges of Special Olympics. “It is more difficult than any other Olympic Games. Mentally these kids aren’t stable so it’s a very big job to deal with them and train them for the games in the world and that’s exactly what our coaches and our team have done and now we have 15,000 specialty athletes.”

Other participants included Deepa Malik (President, PCI), Rahul Bose (President, Indian Rugby Football Union) and Desh Gaurav Sekhri (Co-Founder, Sports and Society Accelerator).

The conclave was held in collaboration with Hero We Care, a CSR initiative by Hero Motocorp, ONGC, Jain University, Vajiram & Ravi, Institute for IAS Examination, Cric HQ, Shiv-Naresh and News X.

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