In this article, K. Mrudula, an ex-athlete and a participant of the Commonwealth Games 2010, highlights, through the example of SAI–Mythra foundation–Pullela Gopichand foundation, how collaboration of various organizations having shared vision and objectives, can prove to be an effective model, for realistically achieving the desired objectives.
K. Mrudula is an alumna of the inaugural edition of the High Performance Leadership Program launched by ELMS Sports Foundation in association with Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
India has immense untapped potential and talent in Athletics. The governments and sports authorities have been making required efforts to build a high performing athletic ecosystem in the country, and yet there is a vast scope for improvement and development in the field of Athletics. In our country, sports development and high performance, have been mainly viewed as the responsibility of the SAI (Sports Authority of India) and the sports federations. However, there is a need to leverage the efforts of other organizations (with their core strengths) to complement and supplement the efforts of the government and sports authorities in developing Athletics in our country. It is high time the public and the private sector should come together to lift our country’s Athletics and to enable Indian athletes to be on par with world class athletes.
Building integrated sports ecosystems is the need of the hour.
There is an imminent need to develop the field of Athletics in the country in a systematic and scientific manner. There also needs to be an effective system and mechanism in place, to tap the vast potential of talent in Athletics in the country and to nurture them and train them through a combination of economic support, expert training, coaching and exposure to international training methods. The model of athletic development, through collaboration of various organizations having shared vision and objectives, has proved to be an effective model for realistically achieving the desired objectives.
In the said multi-organization collaboration model for development of Athletics, various organizations, including Sports Governing Bodies, Sports Federations, Sports Foundations & Sports Academies, Ex-Athletes and Sportspersons, Corporate Bodies & NGOs sector etc., collaborate with each other, to work for a common goal (i.e.) aspiring to deliver podium finishes at various international athletic events and for creating an athletic high performance sports ecosystem. This is achieved by building a globally competitive training environment, in which athletes are able to enhance their potential, skills and performance, and achieve global competitiveness as they get access to train in well-equipped facilities, access to resources essential for holistic enhancement of their performance viz., obtaining guidance, support and training from competent coaches and eminent athletes, obtaining psychological support and needs-based support. The able aid and support of various organizations complements and supplements the efforts of the Government and the sports authorities in this regard, by helping to establish a high performance eco-system for excellence in Athletics.
The partner organizations bridge the much essential funding gap in the Athletics eco-system through their corporate social responsibility funding activities, (i.e.) by providing consistent and long-term financial support to the athletes, coaches and support system, and by funding the development and maintenance of well-equipped Athletics training facilities. It essentially reduces financial constraints for development of Athletics. Further the NGOs involved, help in providing education support and guidance to the athletes. The sports academies and foundations involved in this project, by leveraging their wealth of the coaching experiences of eminent sports persons and ex-athletes and by leveraging the institutional knowledge of professionally run academies, contribute to and catalyse the overall development of an athlete. The associated organizations are able to establish mechanisms to identify and map new talent on a Pan-India basis, by their ability to reach the grassroots levels and other levels in the country. The new talent identification initiatives by the involved organizations helps in reaching and finding new talents at grassroots levels and thereby contributes to expansion of the talent pool in Athletics.
Integrating a multi-organisational approach
The multi-organisational approach adopts a "unique coach led, athlete centric, organizational support" as the strategy for enabling athletes to aspire and deliver podium finishes at various global and national athletic events. In this approach, the relentless focus is on building world class athletes, under the complete guidance and mentorship of a competent team of coaches and support staff, with the able and active support of various organizations viz., corporate bodies, NGOs, sports academies and foundations, eminent sports persons and ex-athletes. In this approach, the athletes get the leverage to train under a team of competent coaches and support staff. The associated organizations contribute, by providing consistent financial support to athletes, coaches and support staff, accessibility to athletes to train at well-equipped facilities, exposure to various competitions and international best practices, motivating best performing athletes with rewards and cash facilities, providing adequate sports diet and nutrition, fitness guidance, physio-support for injury management and recovery processes, psychological support and guidance, wealth of coaching experience of sports foundations and career experience of eminent sports persons and ex-athletes, continued education and career support, providing logistics support to athletes during major competitions etc.
The collaborative initiative involving SAI–Mythra foundation–Pullela Gopichand foundation, is a realistic implementation of multi-organizational collaborative model project for Athletics development. While Shri Pullela Gopichand oversees the program, Shri Nagapuri Ramesh, the Athletics coach oversees the day-to-day operations and that their efforts are backed and supplemented by the SAI and the Mythra foundation. The SAI-Gopichand-Mythra foundation project for Athletics, known as “Khel Udaan” was inaugurated in the year 2016, with this development model and the aspirational objective of the program is, to create a pool of athletes who can realistically aspire to podium-level performances at the Olympics games. Apart from all the value-added inputs, economic assistance to deserving players for their ongoing expenses as well as to facilitate national and international exposure is an integral part of the program. The said project has delivered immense results till date, as well evident from the medal tally of athletes of this project. Since the beginning of the Mythra project, the athletes at the international level and state level have created history by winning numerous medals across various events in Athletics. The total medal tally of athletes in the said project is 487 medals from the period February 2017 to till date, out of which, 14 international medals and 109 national medals have been secured by the athletes of this project. At the beginning of the Mythra foundation project in the year 2016, there were about 44 athletes. As and when, multiple organizations like Eenadu Lakshya, Ishva foundation, Social Welfare society have collaborated with Gopichand foundation and Shri Nagapuri Ramesh, Athletics Coach, the number of athletes undergoing Athletics training has drastically increased to around 300 athletes.
“A multi-organizational collaborative project for Athletics development is a shining example of how different entities with shared vision can come together to make a significant difference in the lives of people and that it is a great platform for youth from rural areas to shine.”
Shri Pullela Gopichand, Chief National Coach for Indian Badminton team
“To develop Athletics in India, I had a dream of having a sustainable solution for training, talent development, athlete financial support, recognition of efforts and teaching of human values through sports. All these have been beautifully integrated in the SAI-Gopichand-Mythra foundation project.”
Shri Nagapuri Ramesh Coach, SAI, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
The multi-organizational collaborative model’s results and adaptability is well evident from the success of the SAI-Gopichand foundation, a collaboration of Gopichand Badminton academy with SAI, which has revolutionized Badminton as a sport in our country. It’s time to replicate the implementation of the said model in Athletics sector across all the states in the country for overall development of Athletics in the country. It could be the step before the national camp (especially for athletes in the train-to-train and train-to-compete stages) and in future such models should be replicated and implemented in various other sports for achieving desirable results, just as how IPL, which is a typical example of multi-organizational collaboration model has resulted in development of cricket as a sport in the country. This type of multi-organization collaboration model, through a coach led, athlete centric and organizational support strategy, will help bring in sustainable solutions to development of Athletics in the country and further aids in development of various sports in the country.