Sports Roots: The Challenge of Transforming Sports in India
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.)
Allow 50-60 minutes for questions, activities and/or role play to engage students for a richer learning experience..............