Indian sporting success on the rise ?
The 21st Commonwealth Games which will be held in the Gold Coast in Australia on 4th April 2018, and it will be an opportunity for some of the latest talent to show their skills on the international stage.
India is expected to do well and Indian sports is on the rise. But at a time when Indian sporting stars are making international headlines, there is still a dearth of British Asians in sports and the future is looking uncertain.
In the past, it was easily argued that South Asian parents preferred their kids to be doctors and engineers – to have great minds and the kudos and security of such professions. This attitude in recent times has slowly shifted and more and more ethnic minorities are participating in sports and taking interest in physical fitness and sports.
The debate on racism and cultural disparities hindering Asian sports people continues, but its credibility is no longer as obvious as third and fourth generation ethnic minorities are integrating within the British way of life.
It was only less than a decade ago that India was poor in sports barring the obsession with cricket. And the last Olympics did not make good reading for a nation of over a billion people. But hopefully all this is changing and recent headlines suggest some amazing linkages to the sporting culture.
Let us start with the obvious – how big can cricket continue to get? The Indian Premier League has put Indian sports on the map and now players are flocking to India to make a mark and play in front of thousands with the salaries to match. Cricket in the UK may be declining, but the love of Indian cricket by the Indian diaspora worldwide is huge. So it is surprising that there are not many Indians crickets playing country cricket and for England.
Yet other less known cricketing nations from Europe, Africa and America is partly due to the links with the Indian diaspora.
So what has given a new found confidence in Indian sporting success? With the country becoming more economically successful, unsurprisingly there is more funding going into sport and as a proud nation, people have succumbed to the view that Indian wants to be a superpower in all its guises and an embarrassment of sporting failure is no longer an option.
The financial figures are rising tremendously. The latest figures on Indian sports sponsorships has crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2017. It grew by 14% from the previous year. The IPL has become one of the top five global sporting properties in the world. Who would have thought that a decade ago?
International icons Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are raking in the biggest sponsorship deals. Outside cricket, names like PV Sidhu and the immerging Indian shooting team are making their mark. Financial security means more time to spend on the practice field and better chances of success which leads to more money and the cycle continues.
Like the IPL, the creation of the Indian Super League (ISL) has again offered hope for Indian football. In 2017 its sponsorship had already doubled from previous years. The Fifa Under 17 World Cup was held in Kolkata and again it put Indian soccer on the world stage.
Even, the very Indian sport of Kabaddi is attracting foreign investments. The Chinese electronic company Vivo signed a 5-year deal to be the title sponsor of the Pro Kabaddi League.
In golf, India’s Shubhankar Sharma led nearly all the way in the WGC-Mexico Championship, only to lose the lead on the final day and finish ninth. But it did help for the USA to take notice as he has been invited to play at the US Open in Augusta, only the fourth Indian to do so. Shubshankar is seen as a remarkable young talent at 21 years and a future hope for Indian sports.
Only recently India topped the Medals Table in the World Shooting Championships held in Mexico. It was a first for the country to top a sporting table. Expectations are high for the shooting team to deliver multiple golds at the Commonwealth Games. It is no longer about just participating!
Other lesser well-known sports like archery and billiards have created Indian world champions. Pankaj Advani currently is the reigning Indian, Asian and World Champion in billiards. India’s Amee Kamani won the Asian Women’s Snooker title this year.
According to newspaper reports, in the Commonwealth Games, India is expected to win at least 70 medals with at least 25 Golds. Badminton star PV Sindhu is carrying the flag for the nation and expected to win a medal.
So whilst Indian sports in on the up, we hope that British Indians do get inspired and start making inroads into the British teams and move on from the usual stereotypical roles associated the community.
Slider Photo courtesy of Sportskeeda