- By Nisith Pramanik*
Sports in India have emerged as a paramount sector to showcase its youth talent and enhance the nation’s visibility among other countries. Besides focussing on sports infrastructure, management, sports talent nurturing, and international participation, sports today in India has also developed as an academic discipline to prepare a cadre of cross-functional professionals that offers sustainable career prospects.
India, consisting of the world’s largest youth population should turn its attention to educate and train its youth in a variety of sports related activities. Research and practice have shown that engaging young people in sports has numerous positive benefits such as promotion of health and wellbeing, confidence, mental health, spirit of competitiveness, team work, conflict resolution, discipline, time management, goal and achievement orientations, showing empathy and respecting the players , leadership, tolerance, trust, mindfulness practices, self-esteem, character building, reducing high risk behaviours, decreases risk for anxiety and depression etc.
While there are several easy ways of engaging youth in sports and fitness related activities ranging from walking, running, cycling, swimming, working out at gyms and playing street outdoor games which have proven results in developing psycho-motor skills, burning energy and reducing the risks of obesity and modifying sedentary lifestyles, assuming sports as a career has its own advantage of offering promising lifetime returns.
In order to create a future generation which is physically and emotionally fit and to foster well-being among this vast segment of population, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has taken several strides as articulated in the National Youth Policy. Despite various challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has made a global mark in sports performance by securing 7 medals this year in the Tokyo Olympics, 2020 and remarkably 19 medals in Paralympics. While India has a limited number of Sports Universities set up by Central and State Governments, only physical education experts have been predominantly engaged in training the sports persons.
With a view to encourage identify young eminent sports personalities, train them professionally and motivate them to achieve, the Government of India is poised to set up an exclusive National Centre of Sports Sciences & Research (NCSSR) at New Delhi to promotes education, research and innovation in Sports Science for enhancing the sports performance of elite athletes. Besides creating institutional networks for a composite consortia to render support mechanisms relating to sports science and Medicine, NCSSR will also function as Hub in providing sports science equipment to SAI’s National Centres of Excellence and High Performance Centres. The scheme envisages to establish/strengthen faculties of Sports Sciences to start post- graduate programme in Sports Bio-chemistry, Sports Physiology, Sports Biomechanics, Sports Physiotherapy, Training methods and Sports Nutrition, Sports Psychology and Sports Medicine in 6 Universities across the country.
To ensure the pr-eeminent delivery of services, the NCSSR will adopt a holistic and integrated approach in enabling the elite athletes to outperform by nurturing sports talents and capabilities, reducing the rate of injury and evolving a swift rehabilitation model by applying techniques of sports science and sports medicine based on a Hub and Spoke model. This initiative will create a pool of highly proficient manpower in the field of Sports Sciences and Sports Medicine to reduce the dependency on foreign experts, alongside improving sports research in the aforesaid Universities. This is a definite step towards goal of AtmaNirbhar Bharat in field of sports.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD), located at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, an Institution of National Importance under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will be offering a specialized two year master degree program in sports science. This will encompass specialized courses in sports psychology, sports physiology, sports medicine and sports management by providing hands on practice to cater to the futuristic requirements of the sports industry from the ensuing academic year (2022).
Today, there are thousands of Indian sportspersons who have transformed themselves as millionaires by engaging in sports once considered as hobbies. Sports industry is expected to offer lucrative career options such as team managers, tacticians, fitness experts, dietary advisors, personal trainers, referees, umpires, psychologists, therapists, physiologists, sports physicians, sports media and other officials engaged in managing the sports events.
Sports sector significantly contributes to India’s economy by providing sizable employment for the youth and various commercial activities related to the sports ecosystem. With a worldwide value of almost $500 billion, the sports industry is steadily growing by offering innumerable entrepreneurial opportunities in the sports arena. Those pursuing academic programmes through NCSSR and RGNIYD will have increased demand in the field of sports besides embarking on start-ups besides assuming various professional roles in the open job market. Some of the possible start- ups related to sports industry include: photography, media management, retail store, sports writing, sports club, gymnasium, sports radio, PR agency, competition organizers, sports coaching, and personal trainer, fitness expert, dietician, coaching academies, sports training centres, martial arts, sports schools, sports infrastructure companies, sports equipment manufacturing, sports themed restaurants, consultancies for setting up sports facilities, sports camps, sports competitions/league organisers, race organisers, summer camps, swimming pool facilities, sports bloggers, sports app developers, sports magazine publisher, sports website developers, YouTube trainer, sports garments and accessories manufacturer, sports video games developer, sports therapist, sports events management, partnering with corporates to promote sports activities as employee engagement activity among others.
These efforts will provide excellent opportunities to young people who wish to become sports persons or take up a career in the field of sports and can educate and train themselves under these initiatives.
*(Author/Writer of this article is Nisith Pramanik, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports and Minster of State for Home Affairs)