A common debate in multiple households is the importance of education for an aspiring professional athlete, parents are often left to make a difficult choice between the two. To bridge the significant gap in balancing sport and education, The Sports School and RBTA have joined hands and come up with an outstanding program of support to encourage young and aspiring Indian tennis players. They have just announced a hundred percent scholarship for up to sixty children, twenty each, in U12, U14 and U16 age groups. This is probably the first of its kind in the world, given the numbers from one initiative. And definitely a first in India. This is great news for players who hold an AITA rank which is a pre requisite.
“The idea is to create an opportunity to balance academics and tennis, so that even if the sporting career doesn’t take off players can fall back on the education they receive”, said Dr Shankar from The Sports School. He further added that tennis will be the main focus and academic curriculum will be tailor made for athletes in the program so they can focus completely on the sport. Education from 1st to 10th standard will follow the CBSE curriculum, 11th and 12th (PUC) will have the Karnataka State Syllabus and Under Graduation programs are in collaboration with Jain University, Bengaluru. Special arrangements will be made to cover the complete curriculum based on athlete’s availability so that they are prepared well for exams.
Value of the scholarship is based on level of the players. For beginners it would be 6.25 lakhs per annum, intermediate would be 8 lakhs per annum and advanced players it is approximately 10 lakhs per annum. This includes full education, food, boarding and lodging along with coaching from RBTA. 24/7 hour access to coaches, seven floodlit courts and a 3000 square feet gymnasium. Also included in the program are an in-house physiotherapist, nutritionist, a psychologist and a fitness expert. Rohan sees this initiative which has everything a tennis player needs in one place as a way to give back to Indian Tennis. A 360 degree approach to the scholars with constant support is the focus. The teams experience will assure standards. This sure sounds like a perfect pathway to help deserving Indian tennis players realise their dreams.
Apart from Rohan who is completely involved in this program, coach Balachandran, “Balu Sir”, as all of us in the Indian Tennis community know him, plays a key role in this program as the head coach. He added that this is a very exciting opportunity for children and would help parents who are often worried about their child’s education. He acknowledges that talent needs support, and that the team will provide all the support they can to all the selected players from across India towards making them better.
Admissions are currently open and will close on June 30th. Bopanna assured that each application will be looked into very carefully and students will be invited to the school for the final selection, an assessment will be made for every aspect of of tennis, their fitness, attitude, commitment, discipline, everything is looked into before the full committee takes a decision. A top ten AITA ranking does’nt mean an assured scholarship, the team has an assessment plan which every scholar should fulfil.
Once selected, scholars will be constantly monitored and supported as long as they show promise in the program. One of the key objectives is to bring the best players together so they can practice and train in one place which would help them to push each other to improve the overall quality of Indian Tennis. It is assuring to know that kids will have complete freedom of choice, without bonds and conditions, the only condition set is for the child to do well. In true honesty, Bopanna said – “The vision is to come together and develop the sport. This is not to compete with anyone but to help a promising kid by providing support for education and tennis towards making champions from India.”
A hundred percent tennis and education scholarships are rare even in the US and this program will definitely help the future of Indian tennis. We hope this opportunity reaches every tennis player who is eligible to apply. We also hope this will be a game changer for Indian tennis to build future champions and set an example for more collaborations in the country.