An Interview with IndiaKhelo


indiakheloWhat is India Khelo?
IndiaKhelo is a lifestyle venture that seeks to revolutionize the way sports is perceived and played in India. We seek to develop sports culture in India by strengthening sports talent at the grassroots. Sports in India has been neglected for long and as it doesn’t offer a secure future. No wonder we – a country of over a billion- won just 3 out of 1000 medals at the Beijing Olympics. This,against the 110 won by the US which has a much smaller population. India Khelo , a trailblazer as far as privatization inIndian sports goes, seeks to address that.

So how did it come about?
It was India losing to Bangladesh in a cricket match that set IIT-M alumnus Prashant Pitti of the 2005 batch thinking about the dismal sporting scenario in India. He was working with HSBC in Chicago at the time and he decided to quit his job an come to India to do something about it. He found support from fellow IITians , including myself, who shared his passion and thus India Khelo was born. Incubated by the RTBI in IITM, and mentored by Padamshree Awardee Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, much market research was undertaken before launching the venture.

What does India Khelo do?
IndiaKhelo identifies sporting talent in schools, colleges, sporting academies in the urban and rural parts of India by conducting Sports & Fitness Contests to provide India’s first National Amateur Ranking System. Along with the support of external sources we would provide scholarships and advanced training to these talented sportsmen and then perform India’s first televised amateur Sports tournament – “Indian Regional League”.

And how do you plan to go about it?
We work both in the urban sector with schools and associations and also in the rural parts with the support of the Government of India for the empowerment of the rural youth using sports as a medium. Our long-term plan is to provide a One stop database of all the amateur players in the country along with their verified match data so that we build a transparent manner for selecting and training the best athletes from across the nation. Match statistics are analyzed and representatives of IndiaKhelo and the coaches, point out the areas the sportsperson needs to work on. One of their most innovative initiatives is the report card facility that measures their performance and gives them institute as well as national rankings. This way the students know where they stand and are motivated to work harder to move up the ladder. This adds to the overall impact of a concerted and coordinated effort for the improvement of the sportsman. We plan to open sports academies in the future to train and nurture the best athletes who would bring laurels to our nation.

How do you measure your impact?
We seek to do away with the hierarchy in India’s sporting structure that prevents talented sportsmen from scaling to the top of their game. We provide a method by which any player in any part of the country can compare himself to other players in other parts to see where he stands. We also seek to provide an even playing field for players from all over the country by increasing awareness among people, especially youth, about the opportunities available, removing discrimination in the field of sports against women and the downtrodden and providing employment to youth, promoting fitness among children and instilling sportsmanship.

How are you expanding this model across India? Any challenges?
Our model is hugely scalable, we are planning to go in rural parts of India very soon in one state and then expand ourselves to all the states. On Ground Sports Contest is our main offering and we are looking forward to make everyone play for us and make them keep a track of their sports profile on IndiaKhelo, taking it seriously and working/playing more to make it better. In a very short period of time, we have received immense backing from heavyweights in the field such as the Mahesh Bhupati Team Tennis Academy, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and Mumbai School Sports Association Mumbai School Sports Association. Our major challenges include the conservative mentality of parents, as well as the lack of incentives related to sports like jobs, scholarships etc. We are determined to overcome them and are overwhelmingly sure about achieving the same.

Any pointers for aspiring young entrepreneurs (especially your juniors in IITM)?/strong>
Congratulations! You have crossed the first and the most important stage successfully-you have aspired to be an entrepreneur! Not many people do that. Your responsibility now is to narrow down your thought process, get yourself together, study market meticulously, chalk out an action plan, seek out mentorship of experienced or learned people and venture out in the best possible way. There will be many hurdles in your path, more often than not, you will feel like giving up, people will ridicule you. The world of entrepreneurship is nothing less than a battle field and you will be at a constant conflict with various things which can range from opinion to practice via belief but believe me, the real pleasure lies in overcoming all challenges you face and emerging victorious. Every question raised should charge you more- passion is the driving factor and if you are determined and committed to your goal it’s just a matter of time that people will start following you. As we at IndiaKhelo believe, any innovation worth its salt goes through four stages: being ridiculed, being criticized, being accepted and, finally, being loved by people.

Have faith in yourself, be flexible and moreover don’t wait anymore. Today, right now is the best time to start working on your dream. If nothing else then the learning’s from your journey to your dream will be a stepping stone for a beautiful career. And yes, there is nothing to lose in venturing out, if you are worried about your future prospects, you need not as you have already secured your career coming to IIT-Madras .

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