The weekend holidays gave me a nice time to hang around with Pritesh. (Photo not available. Pritesh is a great friend of mine and my partner in our upcoming mobile notification project. But this post is not about me or Pritesh or our partnership. With all that I have told, the one more important thing is that Pritesh has played Table Tennis (TT) at national level. I came to know yesterday that he was actually India no. 3 while in Class 9 He has participated in three tournaments as yet and helped VIT to win or finish in positions unknown before for my not so sporty university.
He, by the way, suffered a very bad leg injury while travelling to a venue in Karnataka. Reason: My university didn’t made necessary arrangements and my friend sat in an unnecessary manner. I have just played TT once, but the conversation around me assures me of the fact that Pritesh at least deserves a proper chance to realise his full potential. But, that looks very remote considering the fact that he is really low-beat about the whole infrastructure and support that sports get in India.
I have always been very sad to see our hopelessly miserable record in all non-cricket sports. Though, I love cricket and don’t agree with the fact that it is responsible for the condition of other sports. We actually did a few calculations yesterday and found out that VIT’s Table-Tennis team needs a sponsorship of about Rs. 50,000-60,000 (both men’s and women’s) for playing comfortably. The University now gives players Rs. 100 per day (that excludes only accomodation, I suppose). It is absurd. It should be a minimum of Rs. 200. But, the problem is not with my institution. It is with the general attitude. Pritesh told me that host colleges generaaly shy away from providing proper facilities. I don’t count making students stay in classrooms and go a mile for toilet to be proper. The story is the same even at a national-level tournament. You get almost nothing.
On my relentless insistence, we found out that a sum of Rs. 30,000 will be enough for Pritesh to have his best shot to compete at international level. I have read so much about corporates talking about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). For all its high ambitions, the requirement for CSR is simple. Invest in sponsoring college teams or at least individuals. Sponsorship money really needs to flow in urgently. Because, every Indian is not lucky enough like Abhinav Bindra, whose father made a shooting range in his home for his son to practice. But the problem is that middle-class India also has certain standards. It can’t adjust with the pre-independence style of ill-treatment.
But, money is not the only problem. People need skilled opponents too. That means, there must be a critical mass of players for any game to survive. The other, even more important thing is that sports need glamour. If someone does good, it needs to be broadcasted, hyped……. whatever unless people understand it. I don’t see that any sport can ever have reasonable amount of support. Either its pure hysteria or complete “Who cares” attitude. The hysteria is better.
I really hope that some passionate marketing chief or CEO will read this post one day and execute his passion. All of us will love to see a bigger number on our medals tally. Both Pritesh and his unknown sponsor need to pull their socks up.