“Sundays with Purav” is a 11 part series in collaboration with our very own, Purav Raja. Through his first hand experience of competing on the ATP Tour, Purav aims to educate Indian tennis parents, fans, and community, in general, about what our country needs to do to be called a sporting nation
Before we start, I’d just like to point out that our heroes of the country are not our sportsmen, politicians, cricketers or actors. Request all you knowledgable Indians to take a moment and realize that the true heroes of our country are the ones who stand on the various borders of India, unsure if they will see their family again. For this, there are no words.
Since that part is clear, as a sports fanatic, I request us not to be ignorant to how much our sportspeople have to go through to achieve any recognition, fame and money. Just because it’s not covered every single day on the back-page of Times of India along with the mirch masala of cricket – it does not mean that it’s not important. Did you guys know that Pankaj Advani is a SIXTEEN time world champion. Our papers are covering under 10 inter-school success and we are struggling to recognize a world champion. He is the best in 6 billion people at what he does and we don’t give Billiards or Snooker any credit, when he is sitting in our back garden requesting, for a sporting award which he should’ve won two decades ago. Can you now tell me which parent would want to make their child a Billiards world champion, even though we have a living legend amongst us? Such a shame!
The same applies in Tennis as well. There are a lot of people in our very own country who travel with their own money, to various parts of the globe, 40 weeks a year to play for our tricolor. We only hear of one Roger-Rafa final or a Davis cup tie, but please take a moment to respect these fighters who go to extreme limits financially, physically and mentally, to represent our flag. These are unknowns in their own country and I can assure you they are very good at what they do. They have given tooth and nail without getting anything in return. Does anyone want to join the tennis fraternity now and work your socks off only to finish one thousand in the world with a net debt of around 20 lakhs a year? Do not let the media fool you.
I got two points – the first one being the introduction of a lucrative pension scheme, to support the growth of sport in the country. The same way people spend decades at multinationals and are thus set for their retired lives, I think should be the case with top level Indian sportsmen as well. Each sport should have its own criteria in terms of level and ranking, and I feel it’s not too much to ask for, for someone who has spent their life representing our flag. Do you think the head of Coca Cola is worried about how he’s going to support his family once he retires? Sportsmen are worried about the same too, as there is no fallback option. And as usual, Indian families are absolutely right in choosing education over sports. A solid pension scheme might get some more families to consider sports as a profession. I believe this is what our country truly needs.
My second point – it should be mandatory for all sports governing bodies to have a national airline sponsor. This is a great vision for the airline and it also takes a big financial burden off most sportsmen, especially in individual sports. In whatever capacity possible, I think the top players in the country in every sport should be directly linked with an airline. Not only does it provide a great image for India, it also helps these athletes reach their tournaments in optimum condition with less money spent. There are countless stories in every sport with top athletes in India not having adequate funds to buy tickets for their subsequent events. For me, this is simply unacceptable. Losing talent daily in every sense of the word! Just because our national cricket team has big sponsors, it does not mean anything in the large scheme of Indian sports. Do not let the media fool you.
I would like to finish with the fact that all of us stand and cheer for our sportsmen at the World Cup, Wimbledon, Olympic Games, being as passionate as we can to a country we all love. However, I think it’s time for each and every one of us to be honest and realize that most of us have done nothing and spent nothing to get anything in return. So the next time we lose, please take some of the blame yourself and think of what you can do, rather than only blaming the athlete who is fighting alone. Time for us to make a change, as in the space of world sport, we have already lost.
Impossible is nothing 🙂