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Sports Roots: The Challenge of Transforming Sports in India*

CASE STUDY, STRATEGY
ET Cases, 16 Pages
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......................

Demographic Dividends

• Over half of 1.2 billion Indian population is under the age of 30: the demographic dividend is major attractive economic opportunities in various sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, financial services, housing and SPORT.

• Growing urbanization, a young working-age population, rising disposable income will result in increased spending which will result in consumption boom. More money will be spent on eating out and on leisure, including viewing and playing sports and buying brands.

• India will likely be the third-largest consumer market in the world by 2030 as measured in PPP dollars and the largest by 2050.

• ..............................

Sports and Football in India

The State of Sports in India

Hockey is the official national sport of India. The country has won 8 gold medals in hockey at the Olympics but cricket is still the most popular sport in India. Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in Tennis; Bhutia in Football; Saina Nehwal in Badminton; Anand and Humpi in Chess; Jyoti Randhawa in Golf; Kartikeyan and Chandok in F1; Pankaj Advani in Snooker; Rathore and Rana in Shooting; Anju in Long Jump; are few of the well-known sports personalities who have brought fame and glory to India...............

India’s Poor Performance in Sports

There are several reasons why Indians show poor performance in most of the sports (except cricket) at the national/international level. These reasons could be:

• lobbying of sports – Meager funds from the government

• dearth of quality coaching or qualified coaches in India

• non-availability of basic sports infrastructure in educational institutions

• .............

Sports and Football as an Entertainment

Indian Premier League (IPL) of Cricket organized every year since 2008 was the pioneer in reinventing ‘League Culture’ in the form of ‘Mega Sports Event’ in India, at the national/international level. The huge success of Indian Premiere League enthused the inception of the concept of organizing mega events for other sports like the ‘Hockey India League’ (2013), ‘Pro Kabaddi League’ (2014), ‘Indian Super League’ (2014). These events have achieved a high success rate due to the great entertainment value attached to them.................

Football in India

• India is a cricket loving country but football is catching up: young kids follow football.

• Grassroots/amateur football is booming, especially amongst youngsters.

• ............

Structure and Level of Indian Football

• Football in India is managed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Since 1948, the AIFF has been affiliated with FIFA. In 1954, AIFF became one of the founder members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). (en.wikipedia.org)

• .....................

Football Schools in India (Research Data as provided by Sports Roots) General Scenario

• Football training for the young children is largely done by the sports teachers in schools or neighborhood academies, which is unstructured and not of high quality.

• These coaches are generalists and have not necessarily played the sport; lack curriculum and training to lay down a path for the children.

• ................

Marquee Clubs Programs

• MU has been around for 1 year; runs a year-long program in Mumbai; have conducted clinics in 3-4 major cities. MU has moved ahead and also opened branded bars and merchandise stores.

• Barça has been around for 2 years, started the FCBEscola in April 2013 with a year-long program at 2 locations in Delhi NCR region; in 2012 they conducted clinics in around 10 towns.

• ............................

Sports Roots: Company History and Background

While working for a leading sports channel and broadcasting company for almost 20 years Rajesh learnt and developed skills in marketing and management of sports events like ICC Cricket Events, ATP Tennis, IPL, FIFA World Cup, Indian Open – Golf, Olympics, etc. Over the years he developed a passion for sports and became an efficient manager in his company by virtue of his acumen and skills. He developed effective rapport with all his clients (both national and international) which helped him realize and achieve company targets well in advance.............

The Challenges of Diffusion of Professional Sports Training Programs in India

Rajesh knew that accelerating the diffusion of professional sports training programs was never an easy task in India and it would require that he systematically examine customer adoption decisions. Since he still had to establish the brand name of Sports Roots, he definitely needed help from someone having business experience in professional sports training...........

Future of Football and PSG in India

According to Kalyan Chaubey, CEO of Mohun Bagan Football Academy (www.cnn.com):

“I’m sure football has a viable market in a country with a population of 1.2 billion. There are many pockets across [India] where football is equally or more popular than cricket, such as Goa, Kolkata, Kerala, Bangalore, parts of Delhi and the whole northeast of India. The passion is really high – we just need to achieve something internationally.”...........

Going Forward

Just a few days after the grand official launch of PSG Schools in India, Rajesh pondered the challenges his organization faced. The foreign coaches hired by him were not getting sufficient engagements (less number of trainees’ batches) and their hefty remuneration was exhausting his budget. On the other side, the office expenditures and increasing overheads were denting him further. Now, he had to take decisions..........

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Famous Quotes on Sports

Exhibit II: Indian States Compared to World Countries of Closest Population

Exhibit III: The Middle Class in India is Expected to be 41% of the Population by 2025…

Exhibit IV: India’s Middle Class Population may soon be Larger than the Entire US Population

Exhibit V: Rise of Consumption Patterns with Evolving Income Brackets

Exhibit VI: Following and Status of Three Major Sports in India

Exhibit VII: Organization Chart of Sports Roots, July 2014

Exhibit VIII: Social Arm of Sports Roots & PSG Academy in India

Exhibit IX: Launch of ‘Khel Khel Mein Football League’ by PSG

Exhibit X: PSG Marketing and Communications in India

Exhibit XI: Official Launch of PSG Academy in India

Exhibit XII: Business Model for PSG

Exhibit XIII (a): Print Media Coverage for Launching Day (Event)

Exhibit XIII (b): Online Media Coverage for Launching Day (Event)

Exhibit XIV: Pauleta on Field Conducting a Training Session at Shiv Nadar School

Exhibit XV: Revenue Projections for PSG Football Schools in India (in €)

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

**IM RAIPUR- ET CASES Award (GSMC 2014) – For a Case Having Interdisciplinary Scope

Award Winning Case Study
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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