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Sports Roots: The Challenge of Transforming Sports in India*

CASE STUDY, STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
ET Cases,
AUTHOR(S) : Dr. Aashish Mehra, Prestige Institute of Management, Gwalior and Naveen Savita, Prestige Institute of Management, Gwalior.

Case Preview

Sports Roots: The Challenge of Transforming Sports in India

 

July 2014, Rajesh Mehrotra (Rajesh), a young Indian entrepreneur and Founder of Sports Roots Pvt. Ltd., was in his office in Gurgaon, India reading a passage from an article in The Indian Express: “As the Indian contingent departs in batches for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, National Institute of Sports, the country’s top sports institute in Patiala has drawn severe flak from athletes and coaches who have left no stone unturned in their preparation despite having to live and train in “unacceptable conditions”. Ace paddler A Sharath Kamal, who has brought laurels to the country by winning three table tennis gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, called the living conditions at the NIS “very unhygienic and unacceptable” for any athlete representing India.”1

As a professional in sports business for last twenty years, who voluntarily gave up his job as Vice President (Marketing) with a very reputed and leading sports channel and broadcasting company to start his own venture – an international sports training, management & marketing company, with offices in Gurgaon (India) and Paris (France) – Rajesh was looking up at the roof in despair thinking about the terrible condition of sports in a country whose population has crossed 1.2 billion and nearly 65% of the population of which comprises of youngsters up to the age of 35 years. Rajesh was all set to begin a fresh innings of his career to become an entrepreneur, having a vision to develop grass roots sports in India by nurturing and grooming young talents in arena of sports. With his kind of exposure and a rich international experience working on marquee sports properties (including ICC Cricket Events, IPL, Indian Open – Golf, FIFA World Cup, Olympics, ATP Tennis, etc.) to structure their commercial program, conduct event and activation, enhance fan engagement and experiences, and develop their sport, his interest in the area gradually developed into an ambition to establish his own sports company and later on his mission to serve the nation in a bigger way......................

 



1 “Indian athletes slam “unacceptable” living conditions at NIS”, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/indian-athletes-slam-unacceptable-livingconditions-at-nis/486344-5-23.html, July 16th 2014

Teaching Note Preview

Sports Roots: The Challenge of Transforming Sports in India

 

Synopsis

In September 2014, Rajesh Mehrotra – Founder and Director of Sports Roots Pvt. Ltd. (SRPL) an international sports training, management & marketing company, with offices in Gurgaon (India) and Paris (France) – is faced with a question of how to scale up his organization’s operations. Doing so requires that he address four fundamental challenges: 1) how to foster the diffusion of PTPs in football for the school children by adopting one-to-one contact with schools or by appointing franchise partners, 2) how to solve the financial issues faced by the company, 3) what strategic planning to adopt to strike a balance between ‘developing grassroots sports’ and sustaining the ‘business model’ at the same time, and 4) how to increase the clientele of the company. Providing effective and implementable answers to those questions is vital for the development of Sports Roots and its very survival. Failing to expand business operations above a critical scale may prevent Sports Roots from generating badly needed revenue, in which case the organization will become vulnerable to implement and sustain its business growth plan.

With regard to its first set of challenges, the case elaborates the importance of one-to-one contact with the schools and the parents of school going children. It is extremely difficult in India to change the mindset of people about sports; even the educated/elite classes believe that sports are for leisure (‘good to have’) and never a requirement (‘must have’). Immense efforts are required to make people understand the importance of sports for students, especially at the school level; how sports can even help them improve their scholastic scores; how Professional Training Programs (PTPs) can help to excel in a particular sport. Once they were convinced, only then there was a chance of seeking membership for these programs. This required individual contact and much effort is needed to convince the principals of various schools as well as parents because of their traditional approach towards sports (there is a famous saying in Hindi - “Padoge Likhoge toh banoge Nawaab, Kheloge Koodoge toh banoge Kharaab”).  Hence, with these psychological barriers (as possessed by people at large) it was absolutely essential in the present state to devote much time and effort, primarily, in educating people about the importance of sports, and then, in changing their mindset about investing in sports (both training/coaching and purchasing sports goods). Rajesh, therefore, decided to contact school authorities and then parents and their children individually in Gurgaon (and Delhi-NCR). But, at the same time he required a different strategy for Bangalore, firstly, due to the distance and commute concerns, frequent visits were not possible, and secondly, Bangalorians being highly aware and updated, they could easily understand the importance of professional training in sports at the school level. Therefore, Rajesh adopted the franchise option for Bangalore..........................

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • Identify the challenges in venturing a professional academy with international collaboration/s in sports, a viable business model and analyze the marketing strategies adopted for long term sustainability in sports business in India
  • • Recognize the operational context and operational challenges in the domain of sports and evaluate its status at the grassroots level in developing countries like India
  • • Investigate the scope for bringing a ‘culture change’ (traditional approach to a professional approach) in sports arena in a developing country like India
  • • Recognize the importance of Professional Training Programs in Sports in general and Football in particular

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in either Undergraduate or Post Graduate Programs or Executive Development Programs, for the following modules/topics in either Strategic Management or Entrepreneurship courses.

(The case provides a setup to an in-class discussion where students (whether from undergraduate or post graduate courses) need to analyze and support a decision among the number of choices proposed in the case; for a thorough understanding students should also generate external alternatives. Discussion can be positioned to add value in courses concentrated on sports management, sports marketing, consumer behavior, social marketing, global strategy, or country analysis. The case is meant to expose the students to the struggles of creating businesses (especially concept of running ‘professional training programs’ in sports arena) in developing countries like India while taking up the challenge of developing a ‘sports culture’ (especially at the grassroots level) at the same time.)

Teaching Plan

Allow 50-60 minutes for questions, activities and/or role play to engage students for a richer learning experience..............

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Abstract


This case study is about a newly ventured international sports training, management and marketing company, with offices in Gurgaon (India) and Paris (France), which aims to transform the manner in which sport is played at the grassroots level in India by creating world-class, structured and age-appropriate training programs. The ambitious plans of the company's Founder/Director and Co-founders to achieve their goals in a stipulated time frame covering almost all big parts/centers of India, that too, with a vision to bring a significant 'culture change' in the way sports are looked at in the world's second largest populated country, makes it a most challenging and enduring mission to accomplish. The search for getting into a strategic alliance with an international academy especially in football by Sports Roots resulted in joining hands with the famous Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Football Academy of France. The aim was to bring the 'best in class' sports training methodologies and skills to India and by partnering with the PSG Academy, whose program is one of the best in the world, it was all set to spearhead sports movement especially in football training. But, the big question was - whether having a tie-up with an international football academy and working on its model is enough to develop sports at the grass root level in India or was it something more important to do while aspiring to spread sports as a movement in a developing country like India, where per capita expenditure on sports is among the lowest in the world? This case study describes the efforts made by the young company and the challenges it has to face in communicating its mission and building a brand name in sports training and management.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To identify the challenges in venturing a professional academy with international collaboration/s in sports, a viable business model and analyze the marketing strategies adopted for long term sustainability in sports business in India
  • To recognize the operational context and operational challenges in the domain of sports and evaluate its status at the grassroots level in developing countries like India
  • To investigate the scope for bringing a ‘culture change’ (traditional approach to a professional approach) in sports arena in a developing country like India
  • To recognize the importance of Professional Training Programs in Sports in general and Football in particular

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in either Undergraduate or Post Graduate Programs or Executive Development Programs, for the following modules/topics in either Strategic Management or Entrepreneurship courses.




This Case Pack Includes:
 - Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)

* GSMC 2014, IIM Raipur
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