The advent of new vistas in sports funding is a step in the right direction
Young Indian athletes are turning to crowdfunding to cover training and travel costs
The best thing about talent is that you can find it anywhere. Sometimes, you’ll see it when you’re least expecting to - in a child’s crayon drawing, a group of girls dancing on a makeshift stage at a college event, or boys kicking a football around in a middle-class neighborhood in a small Indian town.
And once talent is found, the chosen individual - let’s say the athlete - makes a commitment to put in sustained effort for as long as it takes to be the best he or she can be.
This decision involves a degree of passion, given that hours of grueling training will follow. The young athlete will be working with a coach, following nutrition plans, traveling to training workshops and tournaments, and strategizing to stay fit and healthy holistically.
Before the athletes are ready for their international debut, they usually train for years. They appear, nine times out of ten, in regional and national meets before contending with bigger opponents on foreign territory, which is almost inevitably more sophisticated than the training environment they are accustomed to. Preparing the athletes through these months and years is immoderately expensive - so expensive, that listing examples will be beside the point.
But let us try anyway. The average shot putter’s everyday diet costs about 18,000 rupees. That’s a month’s salary for a graduate fresh out of college in a big city in India. That’s three month’s wages for a construction worker.
The absolute basic single scull you can buy (which is not what you can compete with at the Olympics) is worth $10,000.
You get the drift. There is talent, and it is going to be whetted, but there is little or no support from the government to pay for that whetting.
Athletes are beginning to look for alternative ways to fund themselves. A change is beginning to come, and this change has a name. It is called sports crowdfunding.
The process works simply on most crowdfunding platforms. You start a fundraiser - it takes less than five minutes - and share it across social media networks. Constant shares and periodic updates bring more donations.
You can crowdfund for any cause, and raising funds online for athletic training is a great idea for many reasons. You save time and energy which you channel toward practice instead. Your campaign has serious chances of attracting corporate sponsorship. You get visibility, and so does the sport you play.
A list of do’s and don’ts for the sportsperson who wants to crowdfund:
- Write a great fundraiser story. Tell sport enthusiasts out there why you need funds, and what you’ll use them for.
- Add photos. Add a video if you can. Show people how good you are at what you do.
- Share your campaign and update often. Ask your friends to share.
- Be passive. Communication with your potential donors is key.
- Forget to thank donors. They made your dream happen!
It’s time we accepted that government support will not be enough to push our best athletes to realize their full potential - at least not in the coming decade. This is a shame, but luckily, there is another way to solve problems. Crowdfund to push our athletes out to the international arena. Help make sports crowdfunding a buzzword, and glory is ours.
We are beginning to piece together magnificent backing for our sporting heroes. The wonderful thing is that donors who are putting in generous contributions to campaigns like Umeed India, which raises funds to help Olympians, are choosing to champion shot putters, rowers, judokas and lugers who are not yet famous. If this isn’t people power, what is?
For the young athlete in our story, someday, there will be a reward. Someday, this athlete will represent the nation at prestigious events around the world, and bring home prizes in gold and silver and bronze - to the cheers and adoration and a proudly waiting cohort of happy supporters.