India is one of the most populated countries in the world, with the majority of its population devoting their passion towards the game of cricket.
Sports like hockey, football, basketball, badminton, etc, have always had a niche following in our country, but the introduction of the league based model for these sports, has resulted in a substantial rise in their viewership in recent years.
In 2018, India allocated more than INR 2,100 crores towards the development of sports in our country. Compare that with one of the more developed countries like the UK, which spent over INR 10,000 crore on sports development in the same year, and it justifies why they won more than 30 times the number of medals that India won at the Rio Olympics.
Considering our country is still in its developing phase, which warrants major investments across other verticals like health, education, infrastructure, etc; investing in sport is just one of the many areas we can improve on as a nation. Hence, the need for corporates and brands to step in and contribute to the development of sports in our country.
Many Indian brands have already taken up the mantle of developing and promoting sports in our country, but the untapped potential of the corporate sector is still so huge that it cannot go unnoticed.
Over the last 5 years, CSR spend in India was less than 2 per cent of their budget towards the development or promotion of sports. Even though many companies don’t invest in the concept of ‘Sports for CSR’ due to the lack of clarity about the spending, the corporate sector can already be credited for developing and nurturing some of India’s brightest talents, and for helping sports grow by constructing, renovating, and maintaining stadiums, gymnasiums, and rehabilitation centres.
Besides enjoying tax exemptions, the corporates that invest in sports as part of their corporate social responsibility in India outreach, also enjoy an enhanced public reputation, which increases goodwill for the brand and its products.
Corporates also benefit from the secondary aspects of a sports partnership like sales from partner ecosystems, athlete empowerment, the ability to connect with the masses through real-life stories and increased consumer loyalty towards the brand. But the most important and immeasurable benefit that a corporate or brand investing in sport enjoys is the pride that these athletes instil within the employees, every time they win laurels for the country.
The success stories of many Indian athletes features a push that enabled them to reach where they are today. Securing monetary assistance from brands or Government organizations is one of the most important parts of an Indian athlete’s career.
CSR in sport doesn’t just benefit the companies and the brands, but the entire sporting ecosystem. A lot of NGOs that work with athletes, design specialized programmes that align with a corporate’s CSR principles and goals. For example, there are many corporates and NGOs, that focus primarily on the development of women athletes. Development of women athletes is also a strong statement on women empowerment and is thus a likely WIN-WIN situation for the company or brand.
Besides NGOs, The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which acts as the governing body for sport-based investments in our country, has also introduced schemes to make physical sports more inclusive.One such scheme is the NSDF (National Sports Development Fund).
Such schemes enable more brands to spend their CSR fund on sport and directly impact the performance of the young athletes. More inclusivity from both, the government and corporates, in CSR driven schemes like these, will definitely help close the medal gap that we as a country, have been witnessing.
Over the years, countless Indian athletes have benefitted through these corporate contributions. Better training facilities, a full-time job at the organization, managerial and logistical assistance, and the provision of more competitive (domestic and international) platforms are just some of the benefits that the athletes and players avail with the help of the CSR activities undertaken by the corporates of today.
The success of some of India’s biggest names in sports, like Dipa Karmakar, Neeraj Chopra, Hima Das, PV Sindhu, etc can be largely credited to the monetary and non-monetary contributions made by the Government and the private sector.
It is estimated that by 2022, investment in sports corporate social responsibility in India would double, thus benefitting a generation of Indian sports stars to come. India’s love for sports is even starting to garner international attention, with companies like PSG and Global E-sports investing in Indian teams and athletes, with a vision to expand their presence overseas.
Nobody knows which will be the most sought after sport in our country in the coming years, it could still be cricket or it could be anything from football, kabaddi, to basketball; but with the support of the Government and corporate bodies, India is definitely on course to become a sports powerhouse very soon.
The author, Sanjeev Anand, is Country Head – Commercial Banking and in-charge of Sports Vertical, IndusInd Bank and an avid sports enthusiast.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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The CSR Journal Team