by Samara Ali
From David Beckham’s sensational free-kick at the England World-Cup in 2001 to Javed Miandad’s inspiring last-minute sixer at the Sharjah series in the 1980s, sports represents the human spirit that is electrified with the beat of vigour, enthusiasm and empowerment.
While several countries have successfully implemented training programs and development initiatives to materialize talent for the world to recognize, several high-potential nations miss the mark as they fail to integrate training, business and a robust participatory platform to hone potential players for a sustained period.
Let’s consider the participatory platforms; this essentially covers universities, international partnerships, and sports bodies that aren’t fully optimized in providing outcomes as the regulatory entities fail to synchronize their efforts to excel consistently. For instance, in Pakistan, the National College of Athletic Association (NCAA) was developed in 2019 with the very objective of aligning capacity development with institutional efficacy. However, such in-house capacities have been left in the dust as talent development programmes continue to spend above PKR 800 million at capital cost to develop new sports facilities, since priorities for sports development keep shifting at a national level. This also means that scientifically proven and internationally recognized talent-scouting methods are largely ignored, and vain efforts are spent in developing players that result in poorer performance at international events such as the Olympics and the International World Cup tournaments.
Taking this view forward, trainings languish as platforms fail to evolve with emerging needs of competitive sports. However, some regions understand the importance of sports at a cultural level and build upon it through training programmes and potential recognition. Take the instance of the Hong Kong Sports Institute which has established itself as an elaborate sports training systems delivery agent. By incorporating stable selection criteria to identify high-performance sports and relevant support for performers over a four-year period, it provides the required outcomes of not just enabling its national players but also emerging as a nation with strong roots for sports development.
Finally, in understanding any industry, its business element must be firmly understood – sports as an industry is upheld by not just the athlete, but the team, the rights-holder and agencies that handle sponsorship, athlete management and media broadcast. While this covers the player universe, we must also consider infrastructure finance that goes into building cities that host international tournaments. In developing a stable sports culture, stakeholders understand the value of sponsorship, celebrity endorsements and managing a profitable revenue stream. Arsenal’s Football Development works rigorously on its global fanbase by building the right momentum with its corporate partners, and delivers on excellent grassroots coaching which synergizes discipline, team development and engagement. On the other hand, the city of Qatar spent about USD 300 billion in hosting the Qatar World Cup, all the while developing itself as a conducive region for employment and cultural recognition.
What we must recognize is the fact that sports aren’t simply a reflection of an athlete, or the celebrity that any team brings, or perhaps even an organ that must be administered by national entities. Sports is a concept that follows the value of community development, staunch sportsman spirit, and profound kinesthetic intelligence in order to unveil human potential that can uplift any nation’s or community’s cultural significance.