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  • Imran Nadaph

High performance leadership program launched by ELMS Sports Foundation under the guidance of Abhinav

ELMS Sports Foundation recently launched the High Performance Leadership Program - a unique, first-of-its-kind online training program for India’s sports administrators. In this article, Imran Nadaph (Certified Executive and Life Coach, and Program Manager: High Performance at ELMS Sports Foundation) shares the story behind the launch of this program that has been specifically designed to address the needs of leadership in the Indian Sport arena.

When India returned from the 2016 Rio Olympics with just two medals, despite sending its largest contingent ever, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set up an eight member Task Force Committee (OTF), whose members included the likes of Abhinav Bindra- India’s sole individual Olympic gold medalist - to draw up an action plan for the effective participation of Indian sports- persons in the next three Olympic Games.

When this committee submitted its final report in August 2017, their most critical observation was concerning the lack of a robust sporting ecosystem in India that facilitates high performance. The committee also strongly emphasized the need to establish world-class high-performance directors/administrators in India so as to lead each sport’s transformation.

ELMS Sports Foundation takes the initiative

Recognizing the need to address this critical recommendation and the high degree of impact it can have on India’s sporting ecosystem, the ELMS Sports Foundation joined the quest for establishing high performance leadership in India. The team at ELMS interviewed various prominent stakeholders in the Indian sports industry while simultaneously conducting research in collaboration with international advisers and experts to understand the role and impact of high-performance leadership vis-a-vis the gaps in learning and the development needs of India’s sports administrators. The findings from this analysis formed the background to the journey on which team ELMS (under the guidance of Abhinav Bindra) embarked upon and has been working on since the past two years.

The vision behind the initiative

To provide India’s current sports leaders and administrators with an intentionally designed course that is focused on developing management and leadership capabilities in all areas of high-performance sport.

Working with Loughborough University, Global Experts, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation

To turn this vision into reality and to come up with a truly world class program, ELMS Sports Foundation, besides seeking the involvement of several national/international subject matter experts, also approached Loughborough University [voted ‘The Best University for Sport in the World’ by QS World University Rankings for 4 consecutive years (2017-2020)].

This collaboration was to support the design and delivery of a highly contextualized 10-month Executive Post Graduate Certificate Course for current and future Indian sports administrators. Moreover, since the Abhinav Bindra Foundation also formally joined hands with ELMS as its Knowledge Partner, this gave a further boost to the design, development and marketing of this program.

Turning challenges into opportunities

The COVID crises However, as the ELMS team was gearing up for the formal launch of this course in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the entire world, leading to near-total closure of all educational programs and travel restrictions across the world. This severely affected our ability to get the program up and running as the course had an in-built component of in-person classroom learning both in India and overseas.

Nevertheless, instead of waiting for the return to normalcy post the pandemic, the ELMS team decided to work towards turning this challenge into an opportunity. We 4 recognized that since sports--just like any other industry--had come to a standstill, it inevitably created a window to bring out virtual learning programs for India’s sports administrators, wherein they could utilize their time to upgrade themselves.

At the initial stage, instead of offering an information-heavy traditional e-learning course, the foundation rolled out a short online version of the training program that would address the core learning themes while focusing on quick on-the-job application of the learnings.

Launching the High Performance Leadership Program - An Online Foundation Program

After several iterations, the team successfully designed a High Performance Leadership program, comprising 5 modules and 16 sessions, with a total of 32 hours of online training spread over a period of 2.5 months. The sessions were conducted by the best-in-the-industry experts in the form of live online webinars

Program Launched by the Honorable Sports Minister of India

The High Performance Leadership Program was officially inaugurated on July 11, 2020 in the presence of Shri. Kiren Rijiju, Honorable Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Minority Affairs. The first batch of participants included members from the Sports Authority of India, representatives of various State Sports Departments and other top sports organizations in India, bringing together a diverse group of 60 mid- to upper-tier administrators who are directly responsible for decision making in performance and development of sports in India.

The online training program was extremely well-received as a majority of the participants rated the sessions very highly in terms of topic relevance, speakers’ skills, as well as the relevance and depth of the content.

Encouraged by the positive feedback, the ELMS team is now focused on ensuring maximum transfer of the learning through individual and group project assignments so that the participants as well as their sponsoring organizations can get the most out of this program.

The ELMS Sports Foundation is looking forward to extending this training experience to our next cohort. If you are interested in joining the program, please register HERE ( to receive updates about future developments of this program.

Article by Imran Nadaph

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