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Fundraising to play for gold

How crowdfunding is taking over the Indian sports scene


Judo - Olympics: Day 5
Judoka Avtar Singh took to crowdfunding to aid in his 2016 Rio Olympics campaign

When it comes to making it to the top in any field, all the support that one can get is quite essential. And this couldn’t be more true for sports. Skill building is a continuous process that requires a lot of time and hard work, even to make it to an intermediate level. This often means that there is no time for education and employment, which can prove to be difficult for those who come from backgrounds with limited means.

Usually, when faced with such a choice, an aspiring athlete has to quit and look for other alternatives; especially in a developing country like India, where sponsorship is hard to come by.

Of the many solutions that have been offered, there is one that has enjoyed tremendous success. Since its introduction as an alternative method for artists to fund their creative pursuits, crowdfunding has gone a long way in helping people raise money to achieve their dreams. While disposable income plays a huge role, the sheer number of people participating is often astounding. Even if individual donations are small, huge goals can be reached if a large number of people participate, especially in a populous country like ours.

Sports crowdfunding has seen massive growth in the United States and Europe. American athletes went on popular crowdfunding websites to raise funds for their Olympic dreams. Many of these fundraisers went well past their projected goal amounts.

Aside from the Olympics, athletes have relied heavily on crowdfunding for other purposes as well. In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, there were plenty of online fundraising campaigns for training camps, equipment, nutrition, and travel.

India, too, has begun to see crowdfunding campaigns in sports. One such is the Umeed India campaign where seven champion athletes are participating in a massive crowdfunding drive.

Avtar Singh is one such athlete. He won a gold medal in the South Asian Games, and also became the first Judoka from India to qualify for the Olympics in 12 years. He comes from a disadvantaged background, and his parents had to crowdfund the tickets to see their son participate in the Rio Olympics. Avtar’s next dream is to win a gold medal for India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Another athlete is Om Prakash Singh Karhana. The 6’5’’ record holder and shot put champion distinguished himself by becoming the first Indian to breach the 20-metre throw mark. His diet typically involves consuming 8,000 calories every day, a very expensive affair.

There are several others who share the same dream - to win gold for India at the next Olympics. And to fuel this, they have taken to crowdfunding to help finance a variety of their needs.

Sports crowdfunding in the country sure has a long way to go, and it is heartening that the Umeed India campaign has given it a positive start.

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