Every 2-4 years we find ourselves in awe of a sports icon. And then there are people like PV Sindhu who happen once in a generation. Her achievements are beyond any predictions.
A couple of decades ago sports stars in India were majorly from cricket. Parents were reluctant to consider sports as a career for their kids. Those parents who were okay with letting their kids perceive sports were usually of sports background or high-class society.
Normal parents were in awe of sports parents and sports parents were in awe of Olympic parents. Sports was more of a hobby for them like painting or singing or dancing, merely an extra-curricular activity.
The central government too did not consider the sports sector in its annual budget in the early '80s and ’90s. In all developing countries, the sports sector is considered to be a loss-making sector. But today the sports sector is not only for athletes. The sports sector has a variety of career options starting from trainers to event managers, to public relations officers, marketing consultants, program and facility managers, professional sports promoters, sports equipment and product sales, sport event planners, and sports sponsorship specialists.
According to statista.com, the Indian sports industry was valued at Rs.91.09 billion in 2019 which was 17% higher from 2018. Along with cricket, other sports like badminton, kabaddi, football, boxing, and tennis have caught on with the larger public. Big events like the Indian Premier League, Premier Badminton League, Pro Kabaddi League, & Indian Soccer League are the main contributors.
In the early 2000s, cricket was the main sport that many teenagers considered as a career option, this was due to the success of the Indian national team and the popularity of players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and M.S. Dhoni.
Towards the end of 2010, badminton started to gain momentum in the form of Saina Nehwal. Saina received huge admiration with her quarter-finals loss at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and when she won the BWF super series title in 2009. She was the first Indian to accomplish this. Along with Saina, PV Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi started to flourish. Until then, badminton was never a popular sport in India.
With the success of these players, many private firms started to set up badminton academies across India. After Saina’s bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and Sindhu’s silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the number of badminton academies in India tripled. Bangalore alone has close to 1500 courts by 2017. Badminton coaching became the mainstream profession for many. Around badminton coaching/training, other businesses like sports physiotherapy, sports nutrition, fitness training, and sports management got a jumpstart. The badminton goods and equipment industry too saw a spike. Companies like Li-Ning, Victor, Babolat started distributing badminton equipment in the country.
Now, estimated badminton courts across the country are close to 6000 and growing. Many former badminton players have set up high-performance badminton courts to help nurture the talent. The central government has started to allocate 1000’s of crores for the upliftment of sports.
In the annual outlook the market size of the sports industry was supposed to grow by another 20% from what it was a year back. Since 2020, like many others, the sports industry has also been affected, mainly due to COVID-19 the market size dropped to 16 billion Indian rupees from 91.09 billion.
Governments across the world were forced to announced lockdowns, ban large crowd gatherings, postponed major sports events like the Olympics, IPL, PBL, PKL etc. As these badminton centers are privately run businesses that depend on the money that’s generated through memberships and coaching, they are going through a difficult situation.
For a country that is going through such challenging times India’s Olympics participation has come about as a positive factor. With the recent Olympic medal, PV Sindhu has once again become the talk of the nation. She has given hope for people to aspire, she has given an idle for all the youngsters to strive towards, especially for girls. She represents the sporting culture in India.
Sindhu has become the face of persistence and purpose.