The funds made available by the Indian government for sports development are clearly not enough. Corporate India has to step forward and support sports development in order to sustain India's journey towards emerging as a sporting nation
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly articulated that Corporate India has to contribute aggressively towards building a nation of the future. Obviously, he worries that close to 40% of India’s population is under the age of 20 years and therefore there is a need to channelize youthful energy to creative pursuits.
While the Sports Ministry in India has initiated a few policy changes and launched the ambitious Khelo India Program, much more needs to be done. If India has to build itself into a sporting nation and institutionalize the outdoor habit, India needs an innovative approach towards funding this movement.
GOVERNMENT'S ROLE IN SPORTS DEVELOPMENT IS LIMITED
In 2017, India spent roughly INR 3,200 Crores (USD 500 million) on sports infrastructure & training through its annual Union & State Budgets. Compare this to the United Kingdom’s (UK) spend of INR 9,000 Crores (USD 1.5 billion) and one will appreciate why UK won 67 medals at the Rio Olympics & India won only 2 medals.
With the Finance Minister, stretched between the many priorities of a developing economy, the Indian Government can only spare so much money towards sports development. And this is where Corporate India needs to step in.
CORPORATE ROLE IN SPORTS DEVELOPMENT NEEDS TO EVOLVE FURTHER
Over the last decade, Corporate India has seen merit in leveraging sports through association. And this association has today moved beyond cricket to other sports such as Badminton, Wrestling, Hockey, Football & Kabaddi. In 2017, Sports advertising spend was 12% of the total advertising expenditure of INR 61, 233 Crores. Sports sponsorship rose to INR 7,300 Crores in 2017, a growth of 14% over the previous year.
The spend was categorized across 5 broad categories including - Ground Sponsorship, Team Sponsorship, Franchise Fee, Athlete Development, Media Spend. While this meets the commercial interests of sports development, it only benefits a few. Corporate India has to deliver a bigger and more significant impact.
GRASSROOTS SPORTS DEVELOPMENT FOCUS IS SEVERELY LIMITED
However, the point to be noted here is that not even a minuscule component of this spend is going towards grassroots sports development, be it building awareness, promotion, participation, infrastructure, competitive platforms, services, programs, athlete & sports ecosystem development.
If we have to emerge as a dominant sporting nation, we have to start supporting Sports through Corporate CSR funds.
SPORTS DELIVERS STRATEGIC BENEFITS TO ALL STAKEHOLDERS
Corporate India will soon realize that “#PurposeBeforeProfit” delivers a lasting corporate legacy, tangible social benefits, patronage & reputation and deeper community engagement.
Increasing consumers are becoming averse to buying products and services from companies that display a narrow profit-centric orientation.
Research available in the public domain indicates that Corporate India spent about INR 9,500 crores on fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Objectives, of which only about 1% was allocated to Sports Development across 4 categories - Olympics/ Paralympics, Rural Sports, Youth Development & Sports Infrastructure.
BARRIERS THAT PREVENT DEPLOYMENT OF CSR FUNDS IN SPORTS
Corporates I speak to are keen to support this direction but stop short of calculating the financial return on investment. Committed organizations, on the other hand, view this as a way of transforming lives and sustainable community development and measure the social returns on investment.
In addition, limited understanding of the impact through sport, access to professionals to guide and advise on sports, lack of a unified agenda on sports and the fact that no one internally championing the case for sports are other factors that prevent corporates from exploring this direction.
BUILDING A SPORTING NATION
This may sound radical to some ears, but it's one way to fund sports development in India and meet many social objectives in order to drive in one unified direction towards building a sporting nation.
BROADEN THE POLICY DEFINITION FOR GREATEST SOCIAL IMPACT
SIGNIFICANT & SUSTAINABLE IMPACT ON SPORTS DEVELOPMENT
Ensure alignment between sports development priorities, a structured and planned approach towards both design and implementation, unify action and efforts across different groups, national accountability and deliver a ‘bang for the buck’ in both the short & the long term.