The growth of 'Sports Culture' in various Asian and Middle Eastern countries
Over the past decade, there has been an ardent increase in the love and passion for sports in Asia. Numerous leagues have been set up for different sports which have attracted the attention of not only the Asians but also the westerners.
Slowly, the attitude towards sports in Asia is changing. After the establishment of all these sports leagues across different parts of Asia, it can be said that there has been a development of a ‘Sports Culture’ which has been absent for so many years.
Basically, the spawning sports industry has transformed leisure sports activities into professional opportunities.
There has been immense growth in ‘Sport Culture’ in countries such as India and China as well as many countries in the Middle East. China has taken the football world by storm with new investments made into the Chinese Super League.
As a result of new investors, they have attracted top quality players to come and play in the league namely Gervinho, Hulk, Oscar and many more. This has undeniably increased the fan base for football in China by a huge margin.
India stunned the world with the phenomenal success that the Indian Premier League Cricket league has enjoyed in a short span of time. India has also come up with multiple sports leagues such as Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League, Premier Badminton League, India Premier Tennis League, etc which have all done reasonably well and has resulted in many people developing a liking towards these sports.
This has encouraged investment, corporate sponsorships and nurturing of new talent which in turn is helping and motivating youngsters to pursue these sports as a profession.
Arguably, the biggest step towards growth in sports culture in the Middle East is the fact that Qatar has been given the privilege to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. This will not only help in promoting the sport in Asia but will also put the Middle East on the world football map.
In addition to this, the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics are going to be held in Japan in 2019 and 2020, respectively. All this will help in filling up the vacuum in sport culture in Asia which has been missing for so many years.
Along with all these leagues there have been numerous physical education and coaching programs that have been set up in various schools. This has been done with the intention of promoting sports culture and encouraging young kids to take up sports as a career in the future.
A number of start-ups dealing with sports administration and sports management, broadcasting and event management, sports sciences etc. have all come up, providing a variety of opportunities to find work in the field of sport.
But, if someone thinks about football or basketball, the first thought that will come to the person’s mind is English Premier League or the NBA. They don’t even consider the leagues conducted in Asia for these sports.
So, the primary objective should be to change the mindset of the people. This can only be done by boosting the quality of players participating in the leagues held in Asia. This can happen if the talented individuals are encouraged and proper training is given to the budding athletes.
In addition to this, the government and general public must show interest towards the development of these sports and athletes. The rise of the Chinese Super League has proved to be a huge boost for football in Asia and is arguably amongst the top 10 football leagues in the world.
Due to a lack of sports culture, corporate investments in Indian sports has traditionally been limited to only non-profit corporate social responsibility activities and initiatives. The only sport that was and still is given adequate importance and investments in India has been cricket.
However, this has changed over the last few years with investments being made in sports such as badminton, kabaddi, tennis and football. Up until the year 2014, the sports industry was seen as a loss-making industry.
However, with the formation of new leagues and successful franchises in a variety of sports, the industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 3 years. Besides cricket, the past few years have clearly made it evident that other sports such as Formula One racing and the Hockey India League have some serious business propositions that can be explored.
Even with this tremendous growth, India and many other Asian countries are not recognised as sporting superpowers. The only exception being China.
The positive aspect is that the sporting industry in India is in a growth phase and the potential for escalation is enormous. With a high growth economy and an ever-increasing middle-class population with disposable income and leisure time, together with the rapid expansion of TV-owning households and a strong passion for sports, there is tremendous scope..
These conditions have fostered a rapid rise in advertising, as local and international companies target this lucrative underdeveloped market through sports.
Adam Gilchrist in an interview in Times Of India in April 2016 stated that Australia is keen to help India chase the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) target of 2.1 million skilled people in the sports sector over the next five years.
So lets keep our hopes and dreams alive of bringing the ‘Sports Culture’ of this region on par with the western part of the world.