The GoSports Foundation has been one of the most influential organizations contributing towards the success of Team India at the Commonwealth Games 2022. The non-profit organization works to secure funds and professional expertise for India’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Since their foundation in 2008, they have worked with numerous Indian athletes across multiple Olympic and Paralympic disciplines through their scholarship programs.
Team India were vastly successful at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games across various sports and put their stamp of authority on the tournament. It put to rest the notion that India could never be a multi-sport nation. These instances are instrumental in instilling self-belief in up-and-coming athletes and future stars and helping them achieve their goals.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda.com, Ms. Deepthi Bopaiah, CEO of the GoSports Foundation, discussed India's Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 success, the journey of the GoSports Foundation, future prospects, talent scouting, methodology for the GoSports Foundation, and more.
Excerpts from GoSports Foundation CEO Ms. Deepthi Bopaiah’s conversation with Sportskeeda
Q. The GoSports Foundation completed 14 years in 2022. Can you comment on how the journey has been and your experience since you joined the organization?
A: Indian sport has come along really well, with multiple stakeholders joining forces. The GoSports Foundation is humbled and proud to be a part of this journey and play a key role in athlete development and the nurturing of Indian sport.
When the GoSports Foundation started its work, there was a belief that India lacked the talent to beat overseas athletes, but over the years, our athletes have put that belief to rest through their sheer hard work and determination, which is heartwarming.
We started with the dream of supporting Indian athletes to become Olympians, but we have now come to a stage where we help enable sporting excellence for our Indian Olympic athletes. Thus, the 14-year journey has been exceptional and the foundation is very thankful to have this opportunity.
Q. On the basis of exposure, recognition, and importance, what differences have you seen in the overall structure of the Olympic sports in India 10 years down the line?
A: The overall ecosystem in the early years did not support athlete development, but in this day and age, one can proudly acknowledge the fact that the athletes have reached new heights because key stakeholders have worked together.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI), private foundations, and many big names from the corporate world have stepped up in this quest to develop sports in India. In previous years, there were cases where the development of an athlete was seen despite a weak system, but today, the athlete development is done with credible support of the system, so that is what can really be seen as a change.
Q. What is the process of scouting talents for the GoSports Foundation?
A: The GoSports Foundation has an Athlete Scholarship Program in place, where athletes need to apply, and subsequently, the foundation’s research team also keeps reviewing state and national level games in order to get a better understanding of the athletes.
The foundation not only assesses mainstream sports, but is also interested in being involved in other unique sports like fencing, taekwondo, rowing, and others. When we started the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Program, he, as an advisor, challenged us to set up programs for the sports that are off the mainstream and are not looked at that much.
Thus, when a young athlete applies to the program, we start the selection process. It is a 100-day process as the foundation looks to associate with the athlete for the next four to eight years following their selection, and there should be alignment between the coach, athlete, parent, and foundation in order for the foundation to provide value towards the athlete.
Q. How important has it been to have someone like Rahul Dravid on the board of advisors, and what difference in the thought process do they bring in?
A: The greatest gift that someone like Rahul Dravid offers is that they have been at the top of the mountain themselves, yet they have the desire to learn and provide value with the experiences they have had over the years for the development of young and upcoming athletes.
A large part of him being on our board of advisors is about guiding the foundation on managing young talents and providing answers to all their crucial aspects, such as pre-match preparation, dealing with pressure, caring and managing the well-being of athletes, etcetera, through the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme.
Q. How important is it for upcoming athletes to have a mental conditioning program to be able to perform at the highest level?
A: For us at the GoSports Foundation, the values we want to inculcate amongst all our athletes are about how one can take care of themselves mentally, emotionally, and physically while performing in a high-voltage sporting environment. The mental conditioning of the athletes in the foundation is majorly providing assurance that their team is with them through all the ups and downs. The foundation has a team of experts, including psychiatrists and sports psychologists, who are available to athletes at all times.
Q. In a country like India, where cricket has so much importance that it brushes other sports under the carpet, did you feel a risk of not getting into it and going for the Olympic Sports instead?
A: The GoSports Foundation likes to take up the toughest battles in Indian sport. Thus, with cricket having a pretty strong ecosystem already and the administrators having built the sport fantastically, the foundation decided to look towards other sports. However, the foundation did find a way to connect with the sport of cricket through being the education partner to the BCCI and providing education programs to India A, Under-19 and Women’s Cricket teams.
Yet, on the brighter side, the GoSports Foundation is entering the sport of cricket and have opened up applications in women’s cricket for its overall enhancement.
Q. As we know, esports is getting a huge push as a mainstream sport, and people are getting recognition for being esports athletes. Will we see GoSports Foundation get involved in the world of esports as well?
A: Esports has been growing throughout the world, and the Indian esports athletes are also performing really well. The GoSports Foundation has not yet entered that territory as we, as a unit, are assessing what our role can be in the world of esports. If there comes a clearly defined role for the foundation to offer value towards the industry, then we will be more than happy to enter esports.
Q. India has been hugely successful at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year. What do you think has been the key to their success?
A: It is really heartening to see the multi-sport medals achieved by the Indian athletes, which sends a message to the whole of the world that India is well and truly becoming a multi-sport nation. The coming together of key stakeholders has really taken Indian sport to new levels, and the constant efforts of athletes, experts, and administrators has helped the athletes show their potential in front of the whole world.