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CXOs in Sports: Interview with Arup Soans - Founder, Give for Sports Foundation

SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 28 Jun 2014, 06:21 IST
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Sportskeeda brings another exciting series of interviews – CXOs in Sports, where we speak to eminent and prominent personalities, talking about their sporting interests and ideas for development of sports in general and of their sports work/interest in particular.

Arup Soans (C)
Arup Soans with young athletes (Photo credits – indiegogo)

While India may not have a strong sporting culture at the moment, there are many people who are working tirelessly to bring about a change. One such person is Arup Soans, who is the Founder at Give for Sports Foundation (GiveforSports.org), a non-profit organisation which helps young children build a brighter future through sport.

Sportskeeda recently had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Soans for a chat about his past sporting experiences and what he has in store for the future. Here are the excerpts:

How big a sports fan are you? What sports do you follow and play?

?Sports has always been part of my life, as a player and a fan and now as a career. I follow pretty much most sports though the ones that immediately come to mind are football, tennis, motor racing, athletics amongst many. Having spent time in the US, I follow some of the American sports as well. I currently play football and table tennis, also swim whenever I get the chance.

When did you start following and playing sport?

I started following sports at a very young age since my dad was very much a sports fan. I cannot really recollect when I started playing sport so must have been when I was under 5 years.?

Is playing still a major part of your life? If yes, how often do you play these days?

Since I do work in the business of sports, it is imperative to make playing an important part of my life. I play football as often as once a week. Table tennis is something I try and play every day, with my 90-year-old granddad. Given the opportunity to play other sports, I would bump it up my priority list for the week.

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Which sportsperson inspired you the most as a youngster?

There have been not one, but many sportsmen that have been an inspiration in my childhood. To name a few, Cassius Clay aka Mohammed Ali, Michael Johnson, Pele, Johan Cruyff, Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini and Michael Jordan.

Any favourite sportspersons in modern times?

?Alessandro Del Piero, Wayne Rooney and Usain Bolt.?

What has been your best sporting moment? Describe it for us.

I would have to say there were two significant moments, one on the field and one off it. Both occurred in the year 1999. My school team (Bishop's School, Pune) were playing in the final of a prestigious local tournament (Father Barco Cup), the last of the season. The match went into a penalty shoot out. I scored the penultimate penalty that day. I will never forget the joy after that game, playing on home ground with great support and my family witnessing it too.

The other moment was the Champions League final that year, where Manchester United took on Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. United managed an incredible comeback and win in injury time. 

What do you think is the problem of sports in India?

India as a country itself is extremely fragmented when it comes to culture, language and mindset. Sports at this point is very much treated as an extracurricular activity right from primary school, which is where most of the problem lies. Then again, when we look at the administration of sports as a whole top down, it is in a dismal situation where politics and people's ulterior motives have taken over the actual essence of sports.

Drawing parallels to a nation like the United States, their professional sports are only as strong and successful as they are because the grassroots and feeder systems are well structured and in place to able to churn out great sporting talent. In relation to what I said to start with, the sports industry as a whole is very disconnected and needs to find some sense of cohesiveness and common ground to be able to grow together. Small initiatives like the Sports Business Meetup Group can make a large change going forward.

How do you think we could build a sporting culture here?

Building a sporting culture is easier said than done. Having done a fair bit of research while studying in the US, I have learnt that their sporting culture has been something that has taken over 100 years to get to where it is now. That being said, the opportunity lies in building awareness and creating thriving local sporting ecosystems. Giving adequate recognition to sportspersons at every level and not just taking credit when they are victors at the highest levels.

The simplest way to do this now is through all the key media channels we have at our disposal, television and online should be the primary drivers of this type of sports information. Sport being something that needs to run in parallel with education and not just as an extra curricular activity. Our sports business consulting company, QSport Media is set out to do exactly that. Changing a mindset is something that could take decades, but given the fact that we have a young and vibrant workforce along with extremely positive sports business professionals, the change in mindset and shift in culture towards sports could be sooner than we imagine.

Can you tell us something about GiveforSports.org?

?Give for Sports Foundation is a non-profit setup to help existing sports NGOs build awareness and raise funds. We believe that sport has the power to inspire, educate, build values, instill discipline and promote a healthy lifestyle. Our vision is to build a better world through sport.? 

What are your future plans with GiveForSports?

Apart from providing a platform for NGOs to showcase their work our long term goal is to become a global fundraising partner and actualize dreams of athletes from all sporting disciplines and backgrounds. ? 

Some of our key objectives going forward are:

- By end of 2014, partner with 6-8 sports NGO’s to provide them support.  
?- ?Build a passionate and committed team of full time staff by end of 2015.
- To engage more than 1000 0 individuals and 10 corporate donors by end of 2015 , through online interactions and offline fundraising initiatives.
- Register as a non-profit in the US and UK by end of 2016.
?- ?To raise over $1 million US over the next 5 years.

You seem a vocal voice on betting. Do you think legalizing betting has potential to eradicate illegal betting in India?

?I don't think legalizing betting can eradicate illegal betting in India, but it would certainly reduce it. A lot of the illegal betting is done with black money which means cash, and that ?is already almost impossible to monitor. 

Won't it be tough to legally run betting in India?

?If you do things the right way and with the highest amount of integrity, nothing is tough. Hard work yes but given the fact that many other nations have been successful in legally running betting, I don't see why India cannot do it. It is a matter of finding the right private player to monitor it with the Government playing a supervisory role in this case and ensuring very stringent laws and penalties are in place before even testing the model.?

If you wish to contact Arup Soans, you could do so at:

Mail: arup.soans@giveforsports.org

Phone: +919167612331

Twitter: @ArupSoans

Published 23 Jun 2014, 17:27 IST
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