Do you know that India won 2 medals (silvers) in Olympics in 1900 with only 1 athlete representing India? Then after winning 1 medal in every Olympics from 1928 to 1948 (all were Gold) we managed to win 2 medals again in 1952. The next jump in this number only came in the year of 2008 where we won 3 medals (including 1 Gold). India then rejoiced with 6 medals in 2012, but back to the number 2 in 2016.
In this Olympic year again, the performance of Indian athletes at Olympics has become a popular topic of discussions and debates. Many believe that India has not performed well at Olympics and there are some fundamental changes required to improve the situation. However, equally many also believe that winning two medals at Olympics in 2016 is a great achievement and we should celebrate it along with working to win more medals in the future.
Whatever the take may be one thing that everyone believes is that the performance in the future has to improve. With this (once in four years) concern of improving sports performance of India, people are jumping to solutions without understanding the problem. Some of the solutions proposed recently are: India will have to wait till 2050 and let the GDP reach the level similar to the medal winning nations, improvement of the sports infrastructure is the only solution, right attitude of the policy makers and implementers will do wonders and the upliftment of women in the society is the solution.
All these solutions are valid and will definitely make an impact on the sports performance however these solutions will not work in isolation. There is a need to first identify the problems in the present system and understand how they are interconnected to each other to be finally able to propose non-isolated solutions and an implemention plan.
How can we do that?
Step 1: Identify the process involved in creating medal-winners
Step 2: Based on the process, identify the key groups or stakeholders
Step 3: Create a framework of these groups and highlight the interlinkages
Step 4: Understand the status quo in the groups and set goals, which will lead us to enlist solutions to fill the gap in the two. Of course the solutions will have to be looked in totality and not just in isolation
Step 5: Implement the identified solution, learn from implementation and make necessary changes
This post seeks to target the first three steps only. The other two steps will be taken in the following posts along with due feedback from the identified groups in step 2.
Step 1: Identify the process involved in creating medal-winning champions
The process of creating champions is:
People and specially parents develop interest in sports in general. They either follow sports or are happy to see their kids follow.
Parents become comfortable with the idea that playing sports is an essential part of life in general. The benefits of sports from good health to complimentary skill development is recognized and appreciated. As a result they start supporting their kids to play sports irrespective of the age. When enough parents start playing themselves and spend money on sports it makes sports economically viable.
Parents get convinced that sport is one of the possible options for their kids to make great careers and earn enough money to lead a comfortable life (even if they do not reach the highest level of performance).
The right system of coaches, academies, tournaments, clubs identify the talent in the kids.
This system then works on grooming the identified talents with the objective of making a mark in the world and they get necessary support from government and private institutions
Kids start competing locally and slowly climb the ladders of competitions. In case some kids do not reach the higher level they still get opportunities to make a living out of their dedication to sports. Which essentially means employment in the system highlighted in point 4.
General population along with influencers like corporates, celebrities etc. support and appreciate the participation of the sportspersons in the competitions irrespective of the result. After all, eyeballs on any competition make the whole system economically viable.
Finally, the champions are created and these champions then give back to society and act as feed to steps 3,4 and 5.
Step 2: Based on the process, identify the key groups or stakeholders
Great, so now we know the process involved. If we look closely we will see that there are six groups who are/can influence the fate of sports performance namely:
Corporates, celebrities and other influencers who influence the thoughts and decisions of people to take sports as a career as well as keep the energy in sports alive among general population. Let us call them called MEDIATORS group.
Coaches, academies and clubs, which identify and groom talents. But they need a sustainable business model to do so. Let us call them ENTERPRISES group. This group also employs the players and champions at the end of their careers.
The champions who win medals in competitions and also give back to sports society by helping it grow and reach newer heights. Let us call them DISTINGUISHED group
Sports followers and appreciators who follow sports regularly (not just once in a four year bursts). Let us call them AUDIENCE group. Audience attracts investments and sponsorships
Parents, kids including recreational sports players who provide talent leads. Alsowhen they play themselves even for recreational purposes they make Enterprises group economically viable and keep the sports culture alive. Let us call them LEADS
Government policies and private investments that help to make the system viable and bring the necessary resources to the table. Let us call them SUPPORT group
Step 3: Create a framework of these groups with highlighting interlinkages
Hence we have a framework ready called MEDALS (Mediators Enterprises Distinguished Audience Leads Support) is supposed to help us win more medals.
Before delving down in the details of every group of this framework I would like to get feedback from you all for anything that I might have missed or over highlighted. I would appreciate if the suggestions for now are specific and limited to creating a strong framework and not jumping to solutions. We will together take this to the next level but step by step.
Here’s the MEDALS framework – for a better performance in Olympics
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