Tendulkar as pitch curator for Indian sports

When the Rajya Sabha gave Sachin Tendulkar a lemon, he scored a lemonade. Not allowed to deliver his first speech in the Upper House, the master blaster took to social media to make public his views on sports in India, and what is needed to drive the run rate.

In less than 24 hours, the post was shared/viewed by over one lakh users. The three quick takeaways from his speech (on YouTube and Facebook) are: catch them young; mark geographic pockets to nurture talent and; transform India from sports-watching to sports-playing nation.

Watch the master blaster’s speech on YouTube

Is there something in his message that Indian sports managers do not know already? Boxing academies in Bhiwani (Haryana) and Imphal (Manipur); athletes and hockey players groomed in Punjab and Kerala fields; lanky five-year-olds tossing shuttles in Hyderabad under a watchful Gopichand; and football clubs in West Bengal — all indicate that India is already moving along the Tendulkar pitch. The only reason why these words draw attention is because they come from Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The cricket great wants these initiatives to take a policy format, not just in ministerial files but on the running track.

On the ground, however, sporting authorities are run and rusted by political and bureaucratic influence. Most of the governing bodies in Indian sports, starting from BCCI (cricket), Indian Boxing Federation, Archery Association and Hockey India, are governed by people who have never wielded a bat, bow or boxing glove in their life time. BJP senior Vijay Malhotra has been to archery, or Abhay Singh Chautala to boxing what Suresh Kalmadi was to Commonwealth Games or Indian Olympic Association. Draw your own conclusions.

Back to Tendulkar innings. The legend’s words come at an opportune time. For the first time in Indian political history, a sportsman – an Olympian medalist for that, is the Union sports minster (Major Rajyavardhan Rathore). Top richest Indian business houses, from Ambanis to Mahindras, have been promoting private sporting academies to trap Golds for future world competitions. Middle class parents are ready to draft their young to a sports career. Sports goods manufacturers are sponsoring playing kits and travel expenses for promising school talents in droves.

There is never a better time for the sporting machinery to shake its slumber and buckle its spikes. Tendulkar’s words may just provide that disruptive momentum needed, as we mentioned earlier, to drive the run rate.



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