Moreover, infrastructural advances, tactical acumen and success have also dried up along with the financial input. Indian sport was languishing in the dark ages and Nandan realised that families of budding athletes were very hesitant to let their children "compromise" their education in favour of sport.
But, as citizens of this country who know the prevalent laws of economics in sport, we recognise their concern to be real but still find ourselves empathising with the deplorable condition of our overall sporting prowess. And so the cycle continues but this infamous problem remains unsolved, progressively deteriorating with every passing year. It would take a truly superhuman effort to reverse the tide. It would take the efforts of a team of exceptional individuals willing to shed blood, sweat and tears to make that dream a reality. YourStory pays tribute to Nandan Kamath, Joseph Ollapally and Hakimuddin Habibulla for daring to dream when they founded GoSports Pvt. Ltd.
Established in 2006, GoSports aims at helping people build viable careers out of sport and in the process, also promoting India on the international sporting arena. Interestingly, their investment in human resources of the sporting nature comes at a point where were watching the development of brand India. Their vision for 2010 is to ensure their athletes bring home 10 Commonwealth Games medals. Moreover, at the 2012 London Olympics, GoSports aims to nurture at least 20 individuals who will represent and secure multiple medals for team India.
Nandan reflects -
"At the very outset, it was a challenge to convince people that sports careers are feasible and can be lucrative. Also, we started working in an environment that lacked the correct support systems - plus, our business plan had never been heard of in India which gave rise to some amount of skepticism. Operationally, we had a home office and funded ourselves. We had enough belief in our work to concentrate primarily on creating and capturing value in the long term. However, the challenge, but also the potential gains involved were enough to make us pursue our passion and not take on regular jobs. This took some adjustment given that we came from salaried jobs."
With such apparently insurmountable odds what could have spurred on these men to tackle a problem no one else was willing to deal with? Once again, Nandan explains, "As youngsters, all three of us have played serious sports. But we know how frustrating it is to be a budding sportsperson with the necessary passion and talent, but challenged by other factors like funding and infrastructure." Incidentally, Hakkimuddin Habibulla is a former Olympian swimmer who represented India at the Sydney Olympics. No doubt he would have benefitted hugely if he had the right guidance and backing from an organisation such as GoSports. In the modern world of sports, athlete management includes everything from enhancing your client's potential on the field to taking care of all legal, financial, operational and travel arrangements. Last but not least, an athlete needs a great team taking care of the marketing and PR avenues to help them become the face of the sport itself. GoSports' holistic approach takes care of all these parameters and helps the athlete reach the top by giving them access to a wide range of professional services. "Our aim is to manage the entire lifecycle of an athlete", stated Nandan.
In early 2007, Virdhawal Khade was caught between his 10th standard board exams and the opportunity to participate in the World Swimming Championships. Thankfully GoSports intervened and convinced his parents to let their son give his exams later that year. The move reaped massive dividends as the young swimmer qualified for the Olympics at this event, creating history by becoming the youngest Indian swimmer to do so. Remarkably, young Khade has since also gone on to win 6 medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games!
Success stories such as Khade's has helped boost their profile and resulted in a number of very talented athletes seeking their services. To reinforce this point, YourStory learnt that the company's athlete portfolio is growing at the rate of about 200% year on year and the team expects this trajectory to continue over the next few years. Having received that necessary validation from the market, their next task is to expand their scope of impact as well as the number of athletes.
Even still, it is fantastic how the men behind GoSports have soldiered on in the face of such cynicism and negativity. "We are often told that the challenge we have taken on is too big or that we are unlikely to be successful in our goals. But we are very much in touch with what we are building and are confident that, in time, we will have a significant impact on the state of Indian sport.", declared Nandan with a confident smile, "We have been realistic. We recognise that one needs to be creative and flexible to make things change for the better. In some sense, having played a high level of sports helped us cut our teeth in the world of entrepreneurship." On a touching note, he and his colleagues say that they are forever indebted to their families for the unconditional support along the way. Their support helped them stick to their guns despite the risks involved.
GoSports are go-getters who won't settle for anything less than 'multiple Olympic gold medals' and to see their sportsmen become world champions. They want to create the icons of tomorrow in every sporting discipline.
As another YourStory interview came to an end, Nandan Kamath offered our budding entrepreneurs a few words of advice -
"Trust your instincts, work on something you care about and with people you like, enjoy the little successes, continue to dream big and work hard towards converting those dreams to reality."
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