Saturday 27 November 2010

Building a Culture, Bridging a Gap - From the Grassroots


Humans are bounded by a theory famously known as "Evolution". It emphasises on the metamorphosis of all the living species on this planet. It talks about the species adapting to its habitat. Now, as a matter of fact, habitat determines the evolution and behavioral patterns of all the mortals as time goes by. Consider the situation of creating an environment more suitable to sustain and develop a particular growth; it requires a certain amount of change in the existing system. This change is more influential and beneficial, if it is aimed at the grassroots level.

In this second edition of my series, I want to talk about the importance of coaching the youth to bring about a change and inculcate a sense of discipline, imparting the knowledge and guidance from the experts at the grassroots level. Bangalore Youth Football League (BYFL) was started on similar lines.

BYFL was conceptualised in 2007 by Adhip Bhandary, who himself is a football player in his own right. His involvement in football administration goes back to late 1990's when he was a football sub-committee member of the famous Bombay Gymkhana. Over the next few years, he worked in organising many football tournaments across the country and more importantly realised the need of structured youth programs.

In 2009, Adhip was part of the Sports Master's programme in Lausanne, Switzerland through which he was able to absorb a lot of knowledge and expertise which BYFL has benefited immensely since the start of this year.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”, a famous saying by Mahatma Gandhi. It is no coincidence to see a parallel between the above said line and the creation of BYFL. It is interesting to know the idea and the legacy of such an idea. A man of few words, he took his time out to give some insight on his initiative.

Creation of Bangalore Youth Football League (BYFL) –
[AB] - The idea for Bangalore youth football league came as I witnessed there was no proper league structure for the kids to play every weekend. Also the quality of coaching was below par in many parts of the city. Also since I had played professionally in Mumbai, I had decided to give back to the kids what i had received from Football, which was discipline and sense of pride and belonging. It inculcated good habits and a healthier way of life.
How is it being run in the present and the legacy of your initiative?
[AB] - Well as of now it is being run by a team of 8 coaches in 3 different locations; we have over 200 children, both from underprivileged and privileged backgrounds. The legacy of this initiative is to develop skilled, confident and creative players and above all to make the game fun for everybody.
Future Plans:
[AB] - We at BYFL are looking to branch out not only within Bangalore but also to smaller towns like Mangalore and Coimbatore. Also organize a seminar for coaching the coaches’ programme.

Currently based out of Bangalore, Adhip can be seen organising inter-school tournaments, coaching camps or sit in his office developing plans to take initiative a step further. BYFL started with a membership of 15 students and now it has grown into a pool of 180 students in a short span of time.
For those of you who want to know more on this initiative, Adhip Bhandary can be contacted through e-mail and phone.
Mobile: +91 – 9686098644

Building a Culture, Bridging a Gap is a forum to share some of the initiatives taken by indiviuals for the development of Indian sports.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Building a Culture, Bridging a Gap - Gather the Mass for the Mass Sport


Culture, every nation has its own unique way of presenting themselves and the same can be applied to sports. The challenges of a developing nation are plenty and one such for India is to build a sporting culture. To build a culture, there needs to be a sense of belonging. A little effort in the form of tiny drops must agglomerate in making an ocean. We have a population which can be used to harness the support for the athletes. One such initiative is for the game of football in India.

India will be participating in the forthcoming Asia Cup, held at Qatar, 2011. Mahesh Reddy, a sports management graduate from Lausanne, Switzerland, has launched an interactive fan support website to gather goodwill messages for the Indian football team.
His campaign titled “Ji Le India” is all about collecting the support in the form of messages from different parts of the country. India currently ranked 144th (latest FIFA rankings) requires a support system in order to revive the state of the game. Having involved heavily in cricket, Mahesh realises the importance of upbringing other mass sports such as football into the market. I had three simple questions to him related to his project:
What was the motive behind Ji Le?(MR) - The FANS of any sports team play a massive role in influencing the performance of the team in a game. The encouragement and support provided by fans during the thick and thin of a national side goes a long way in restoring confidence amongst the players and helps in bringing out the best in them. In an attempt to provide the Indian players with as much support as possible to excel at the 2011 Asia Cup Championship in Qatar, the Ji Le team intends to attempt a feat that has not been done ever before.
What are you doing as part of the Ji Le Campaign?
(MR) - “Ji Le” is an interactive community driven exercise to garner support for the Indian Football Team competing at the 2011 Asia Cup Championship in Qatar. Ji Le will be a completely unique and one of its kind initiatives featuring fan support through videos, hand written messages, photos, on the spot competitions and many other unconventional methods. Emphasis will be not only be on garnering as much support as possible but also to do it in the most unique form. Ji Le India will by far be an unparalleled show of fan support in the history of Indian Football.
What legacy do you intend to leave behind?
(MR) - Legacies are left behind by events that are over and done with. We at JI LE INDIA do not believe in being just a one off spark in the wilderness. We rather wish to be the spark that has the potential to ignite a raging wild fire that can bring down with it all the negatives attached to Indian Football and hopefully bring in the much needed transformation not only in the minds of the administrators but more so in the minds of the 1.2 billion odd Indian citizens. Ji Le India will be an ongoing campaign to foster as much support as possible to the Indian Football fraternity with the only change being that it would take different avatars to suit different needs!
This initiative is first of its kind in India for football. Football, being a globally renowned sport definitely needs a revamp in the second most populated country. Collective effort is necessary to make this happen and one such endeavour is Ji Le.

The website - http://www.jileindia.com/ was launched in the third week of September and so far managed to register 1300 fan messages in the form of text, photos and videos.
With the Asian Cup football scheduled in January, expect the support numbers to grow. After a gap of 26 years, Indian football team will arrive in Qatar to participate in the XV Asian Cup football.
The best showing from the Indian team dates back to 1964 where they finished second, behind Israel. Israel then was part of Asian football Confederation (AFC) till the early 1970’s before they were expelled and now currently part of UEFA.
With many of the fans having expressed their support through Ji Le campaign, its the turn for the Indian football team to live the dream of their supporters. Ji Le India
Building a Culture, Bridging a Gap is a forum to share some of the initiatives taken by indiviuals for the development of Indian sports.

Dawn of New Sporting India - A reflection on Commonwealth Games

We are done with the XIX Commonwealth Games and as a 11 day event and having involved personally in few of the projects, I can say, we as a nation and sports fraternity managed to pull it off amid a lot of allegations and corruption.

I have my views on our shortcomings and how one can improve and the sort of benchmark which the Indian sports fraternity has built. Asian Games 1982 certainly was a landmark event to India just like the 1950 inaugural Asian Games. But India, in general of the 50's and 80's looks alienated in some way to the present day India. I can even go on to say, media industry has grown from the time we were successfully awarded the games way back in 2003. The entire media trail being conducted currently deserves some merit, but it is merely highlighting the problem which is prevailing in all the sectors of business across India and in the world. It has so far not put the facts in the right place and has failed to present the total picture to our public. In short, it is strong facts mis-interpreted here and there to make it a sensation.

India is an emerging market globally and unlike London, host city of Olympics 2012 and Glasgow, host city of Commonwealth Games 2014, we never faced the crisis regarding budget. While the talks of cost cuttings are on across the British Isles, we always managed to escalate the costs. We are a force to reckon, by the looks of it. In short, India and in particular Delhi, the capital city managed to host the games and the event in general was a success. I would say best ever games Indians could have managed with the present reality and problems that prevailed. I have removed the idealism from the above assessment and have based my opinion of where we stand in practical terms.

From my personal experience as a sports enthusiast, I can safely say, India as a nation is more interested to know the extremities of winning and losing. It gives us a sense of pride to know whenever we win and a dramatic tragedy if we lose. But very quickly, reality bites. It gives us a sense of belonging, but the effect does not last long. We, as citizens have other issues to deal in our personal lives and as a country we have multitude of problems to resist and overcome. In a long time, Sports caught the attention and never one knew sports, with the exception of cricket are funded heavily by the Government and not through private funds.

As a citizen, I might be made to believe by the media reports about us being a long way short of achieving perfection in holding an event. But, to me the real assessment was our past record. After all, we are just the second Asian country after Malaysia in 1998 to host the Commonwealth Games since its inception way back in 1930.

Indian athletes have won the hearts of the entire public and in the end; the games are made for the sake of athletes. It is their stage to showcase their prowess in their respective disciplines. This was and still remains the definition of Sports to many of us in India. But sadly, the business which should have remained back of house of any event came to the fore and hogged the limelight, outshone the athletes and even threatened to hold the games without the athletes. But it didn't, and this was possible through few people, who really worked hard to make this event happen and they deserve a lot of credit. These are the people who managed to shed their egos and dedicated themselves to a cause.

The event in Delhi opened up the Pandora's Box to even the organisers about building the stage so that athletes can just focus on performance. It is this building of the stage, we failed.
In Delhi, we were presented with the opportunity for a lot of work forces to be aware and get the knowledge of various disciplines involved in making a Sports event successful.
Co-ordination between various committees and parties involved was appalling. Live wire can never be live, unless it has a good connection. This event gave us the need of having a good connection. Failure of administration, Failure due to lack of sports culture (except cricket) and in short, the organising committee was a collective failure. It is the foundation which is important to wither storms and other uncertainties.

"Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success." - Denis Waitley

In the end, it was just Commonwealth Games and it is not to be confused with Asian Games or Olympics, which has wider audience and more disciplines of sports in them.

Commonwealth Games Federation can look to benefit from the media attention they got from Delhi. It is a start in many ways for Commonwealth Games Federation to market their position better now that people from various parts of the world are aware of such an event. Frankly, Commonwealth Games was never such a big event in the Sporting World. India, in its own ways, with the problems we had, managed to make it look really big infact made it look like a Mega Event.

I would say with the kind of lessons we have managed to gather; all we (Indian sporting fraternity) need is introspection, direction, application and dedication. I am confident, although I do not have the right statistics to back me at this point, we have only to rise and I do not see us falling in the future. Every milestone moving forward will be looked upon as a benchmark. India is diverse and all the countries in many aspects are not like us.

Why don't we compete with our past to become better instead of competing with rest of the world? Instead of being in the rat race, why don't we run our own race? and be good at it each time.