'Cricket no longer the only popular sporting career'

Indian parents now more supportive of children opting for sports career other than cricket: Survey

For a cricket-crazy nation like India, other sports tend to get recognition only during sporting events such as Olympics

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

India's best-ever medal haul at the Olympics – including Neeraj Chopra's historic gold – has instilled fresh energy into the prospects of non-cricket sports in the country and more parents are now willing to support their child opting for a career in sports other than the gentleman's game, according to a survey by LocalCircles.

The survey, which was conducted to understand the sentiment after the stellar performance of the Indian contingent, comprised close to 18,000 respondents residing in 309 districts of the country (42 per cent respondents from tier I districts, 29 per cent from tier III and 29 per cent from tier III, IV and rural districts).

About 51 per cent of the respondents said they followed India's performance closely in the Tokyo Olympics, while 47 per cent said they did not.

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“This seems to be a significant increase in comparison to 2016 where a similar LocalCircles survey had indicated that less than 20 per cent Indians were tracking India's performance in Olympics,” LocalCircles said.

For a cricket-crazy nation like India, other sports tend to get recognition only during sporting events such as Olympics. Also, there are only a handful of world-class sporting institutions or coaching schools across the country that train athletes, other than cricket.

Historically, most middle-class parents have been reluctant to support their children to take up sports outside cricket as a career with the belief that they do not provide regular earnings and financial stability in the long term.

However, the likes of Rani Rampal (Indian women's hockey team captain) have inspired thousands of young girls to get interested in sports while the athletes from Haryana including the gold medalist Chopra seem to have energised the entire state.

Cash awards and gifts from corporates and the government have also poured in. “All of this is bound to influence the young ones and their parents to take up sports as a career… Tokyo Olympics seems to have instilled new and fresh energy into the prospects of non-cricket sports in India,” LocalCircles said.

The majority of 71 per cent of Indian parents surveyed said they would be supportive if their child chose a non-cricket sport as a career. About 19 per cent said they wouldn't support their child taking sports as their career, while 10 per cent did not have an opinion.

“Once again this is a drastic rise from the survey result in 2016 where approximately 40 per cent of parents had said that they would support their child taking up a sporting career outside of cricket,” the report said.

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LocalCircles noted that the Tokyo Olympics has marked a step-change in the level of interest Indians take in non-cricket sports.

“The need of the hour is for Central Government and State Governments to find ways to create new infrastructure to promote sports and find ways so the existing infrastructure can be maintained and made available efficiently to those with potential.

This along with roping to deploy CSR funds in the development of sports could go a long way in developing many more high-quality Indian sports stars for Paris 2024,” it added.

Chopra created history by bringing home the country's first-ever gold medal in javelin throw in Tokyo Olympics 2020. He produced a second-round throw of 87.58 meters in the finals at the Tokyo Games to claim the country's first track-and-field medal and become only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics.

India registered its best-ever medal haul at an Olympics with seven medals, including two silver and four bronze. In this Tokyo 2020, Bajrang Punia (Bronze), Mirabai Chanu (silver), P V Sindhu (bronze), Lovlina Borgohain (bronze), men's hockey team (bronze), and Ravi Kumar Dahiya (silver) clinched medals for India.