"Indian sports industry is on the cusp of a major explosion," says Sportex.Asia director Suryavir Madhav
Being one of the biggest investment and management promoters of sports in the continent, Sportex.Asia has taken up the cause of Indian sports far and wide, in order to bring more into the sector.
Director Suryavir Madhav, who was himself a junior basketball player back in his days, spoke, in a candid chat, about his passion for sports, and how he wants to see the sports business sector grow within the country.
Here are a few excerpts from our conversation with him.
Q. How did you find your self in Sports? Didn't you think about investment banking since you did your management and finance form London and also worked in London?
A: SportEX.Asia is connected with "all things sports". As soon as we mention sports, it's about Passion. I have myself been a sportsman and played basketball at the u-19 national level in and for me, it is a privilege for me to be talking about SportEX.Asia brand to the various stakeholder and so that the cause of sports in our region and in India, in particular, can be furthered.
It is fortunate for me that I am able to help and contribute towards the development of sports in India . Having been a sportsman my self, my passion lies in sports and the opportunity that exists in front of us is tremendous - the sports sector will see growth in a major way be it in terms of leagues, competitions or training academies etc.
There will be opportunities for thousands like me to find a career in sports at the current juncture. We are already beginning to see this and I have no doubt that all the leagues will provide employment to a lake of people. In many ways my generation has this unique opportunity of riding on another new sunrise sector.
The SportEX.Asia brand is a neutral platform and we passionately try to ensure that there are no biases whatsoever. What this means is that the platform is open for all Sporting assets to talk to the various stakeholders in sports including investors, sponsors etc across geographies & continents.
Q. You were a former junior-level basketball player. Enlighten us about your experiences as a player and did you ever envision being a professional basketball player or investments and management in the sports industry were more like your calling?
A: I played basketball at the national level in the under 19 category for my state and unfortunately 10 years ago there were not many avenues to build upon the skills within India to reach international levels. I proceeded to do my bachelors from Delhi University and then the degree in Business Management and Finance in London. In the last couple of years, the sports sector is expanding out phenomenally and we established the SportEX.Asia brand. It is wonderful to see how the sports sector is exploding in our country and SportEX.Asia is right in the center playing the pivotal role of catalysing this vast sector. This also is a matter of great privilege for me to be working in the sector which I have an immense passion for.
Q. How do you see the sports marketing industry in India at the moment and what you expect from it in the coming years?
A: Sports marketing has come of age in India. Given the 20% growth in the Sports Sector and the launch of various leagues, there is a huge need to market the sporting assets appropriately and to tie in long-term sponsorships. We are clearly seeing the induction of the top management talent in the sports sector and especially in the marketing area.
As an example, the media rights for IPL cricket were auctioned for USD 2.5 billion. Other rights would head north as well. The need for sports marketing is going to grow exponentially. This is also because the teams in the various leagues would also be building up their fan bases and that would create value for them and this would be leveraged through sports marketing.
Q. Is there anything new you guys are working on that you can reveal to us?
A: Yes there are 2 major initiatives that we are working on and we will be able to give you more information on it in couple of months. One of these is a sports leadership initiative as we believe that talent and skills would need to be seriously augmented so as to take advantage of the Rapid Growth of the sports sector.
Q. You recently organized a curtain raises in Spain, how was the event received in Spain?
A: This year for SportEX.Asia, the country focus is Spain and we had a very significant curtain raiser event in Madrid on February 1 where over 55 top end Spanish Corporates, Sports Federations and Sports Clubs participated. We had the likes of the Director of Santander Bank, Spain's largest bank, the top officials of La Liga and also the senior representatives of Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. Several federations including the Spanish basketball federation, Spanish futsal federation, boxing federation, front ball federation were present.
There was great interest shown by several people to see how they could participate in growing the sports sector in India. Equally, they were keen to explore how Indian corporates could advertise and sponsor Spanish teams and sports.
Q. SportEx.Asia is the one if the biggest International conferences in Asia. What do you envision for the brand to achieve in the coming years? Are there plans to expand the conference and give it another dimension like exhibitions of TV rights and other sports rights happening within the conference?
A: SportEX.Asia seeks to be a thought leader for the sports business across Asia. For this, SportEX.Asia merely acts as a critical catalyst to these sports Leaders. As mentioned, we clearly see taking SportEX.Asia to different countries at 1 level, through this various leagues and sporting assets across the geographies, can leverage each other's strengths to build value. Further, multinational Corporates would be able to get an opportunity to associate their brands across territories.
With regard to TV rights and other rights, SportEX.Asia 2018 will provide the platform for these asset owners to talk about their plans and to start interacting with the various distribution platforms including television.
Q. What Do you think about Sports industry in General in India and how do you see it growing?
A: The sports industry is on the cusp of the major explosion which China saw a few years earlier. The sheer population gives leverage to brands to participate as sponsors . I think sports asset owners have a great road ahead as brands have already started to take sports as a means to proliferate their brand and it's just not about cricket anymore.
Football is one of the great sports that is appreciated worldwide and with the U17 World Cup taking place in India and ISL through its city-based model, would promote this game in the times to come. We at Sportex.Asia believe that sports is a sector and it is the new sunrise sector just like the IT sector which boomed a few years before in India.
We believe that FDIs would come into this sector in the near future and also banks will start to look at this as an asset which they can finance. Sportex.Asia conference is the conference where sports asset owners would get to meet the right investors from all over the world.