Fu­elling podium fin­ish: Oil’s do­ing well for In­dian sports

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - San­jay.Dutta@ times­group.com

New Delhi: Oil may be pinch­ing fuel con­sumers hard but it is work­ing well for In­dian sports, with a third of the 69 Jakarta Asian Games medal win­ners on the rolls of state-run oil com­pa­nies.

For decades, the rail­ways, Air-In­dia and its sis­ter car­rier In­dian Air­lines – be­fore their merger – cra­dled In­dia’s sport­ing tal­ent. But as chang­ing econ­omy knocks the wind out of their bot­tom­lines, the man­tle has been taken over by state-run oil com­pa­nies.

The com­pa­nies have for many years been spon­sor­ing tour­na­ments and em­ployed a star cast of sportspersons — ONGC’s Viren­der Se­hwag, Mohd Kaif, Gau­tam Gamb­hir, Vi­rat Kohli; In­di­anOil’s P Gopichand or BPCL’s M M So­maya, a mem­ber of the 1980 Olympics gold-win­ning In­dian hockey squad. But as sports be­comes an im­por­tant part of the gov­ern­ment’s ru­ral thrust, the fo­cus has shift- ed on catch­ing tal­ent young, es­pe­cially from eco­nom­i­cally weaker back­grounds, for groom­ing.

The re­sults are here. Fif­teen of this year’s Asiad medal win­ners are from ONGC, which had 38 mem­bers in the In­dian con­tin­gent. In­di­anOil con­trib­uted eight. “Com­ing from a hum­ble back­ground and af­ter fac­ing set­backs in my life, In­di­anOil has be­come my fam­ily,” Kr­is­han Pathak, mem­ber of the bronze-win­ning hockey squad, said at a re­cent func­tion.

His team­mate Sim­ran­jeet Singh said they could give their all on the field be­cause the com­pany “en­sured we are well equipped and en­abled us to take care of our fam­i­lies bet­ter”. “Sports is an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor of a na­tion’s growth and de­vel­op­ment. In­dia has a huge pool of sport­ing tal­ent and once nur­tured, they be­come in­vin­ci­ble,” ONGC chair­man Shashi Shanker said.

Ac­cord­ing to IOC di­rec­tor (HR) Ran­jan Ku­mar Mo­ha­p­a­tra, sports is not a brand­build­ing medium but an in­te­gral part of the com­pany’s phi­los­o­phy and key CSR com­po­nent. “We want to cre­ate a sports rev­o­lu­tion at the grass­roots by pro­vid­ing coach­ing fa­cil­i­ties and kits in gov­ern­ment schools, en­cour­age for­mer sportspersons to pur­sue coach­ing to groom tal­ent.”


Kr­is­han Pathak, mem­ber of the bronze-win­ning Asian Games hockey team, works for In­di­anOil

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