The main talk for Indians in August is about the much awaited Olympic Games, where everyone asks same question “Why should we care about how well our country does at the Olympic Games, or how well they do at sports?” With the Olympics only a few days away, Go Sports member Nandan Kamath tried to answer this question on Monday, 1st August at the rotary house.
In The early 2000’s, Kamath and other sportsmen realised that amongst the 1 billion population of India, there was a lot of talent but what was missing was the fact that there was no system. In 2008, India had its Roger Banister (broke the 4 minute mile record in 1954) moment when Abhinav Bindra won the Olympic gold medal. This gold medal showed a lot of Indians that to succeed it doesn’t matter where you come from.
“In a country where they is so much poverty and malnutrition why talk about sports?” is the main question that Kamath got, when he started the Go Sports foundation in 2008, with a lot of help from players like Abhinav Bindra and Rahul Dravid. The foundation focuses on three main aspects – the Rahul Dravid athlete mentorship programme where they work with junior athletes looking to reach the Olympics, the Para champion’s programme where they work with the physically challenged and the third is the Athlete’s education programme. Their main goal is to give the elite athletes and the talented sports people the right path to reach the top. “Winning medals is not the ultimate goal but the idea of inspiring and motivating others.” said Kamath.
“ Sports has given them an identity and a meaning to life” claimed the Para Champions. The Para Champions Programme is something different when it comes to inspiration because the players have great stories that shows people that no matter what happens, if one opens their mind there are a lot of possibilities. The first Indian gold medal was won in 2004 in the Para Olympics by Devendra Jhajharia in Javelin which was 4 years before Abhinav Bindra.
Kamath ends his talk with an inspirational story of Supriya Mondal who is a fisherman’s son. “Swimming is a way of life for him and he has a chance to reach the highest potential” said Kamath. “He can change the perceptions of what it is to be an Indian, talented and follow your dreams regardless of how big they may seem compared to your circumstances.” he added.
The Olympics is exceptional because one can prove that they are better than the best at that time. It is not important if the athletes win or lose, it’s the journey that counts. As Nelson Mandela once said “Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand.
- Nitanti Alur