TV helped make cricket a religion, says Ganguly

NEW DELHI: Television has played a key role in making cricket popular in the country and the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has successfully created heroes turning the game into a religion in India today.

Stating this, the former captain of the Indian cricket team and Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly said other sports need to do the same.

Addressing a session on ‘Business of Sports’ at the 89th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Ganguly said administrators need to capitalise on the existing pool and should not hesitate to promote talented players. Winning a medal in Olympics was bigger than winning in cricket but still cricket got more mileage because of the sporting heroes and idols that the game managed to create, he said.

In terms of financial sustainability, cricket is a huge example for other sports. BCCI has its own stadiums in almost every state which no other federation has managed to do, so far. Besides, he pointed out that the reason behind Indian Premier League’s success was the structured functionality of the organisation.

Indian shooter, world & olympic champion Abhinav Bindra said federations and the government had ample funds but it reached the players just 3--4 months before the Olympics. This was hardly appropriate as the sportspersons had to train for four years to be able to make a mark at the international level. He emphasised the need to focus on the process of preparation and not be bogged down by the outcome.

Indian athlete & summer paralympics 2016 silver winner Deepa Malik said the perception of the corporate world and the people towards para sports had undergone a sea change after India won the medals in 2016 Paralympics. But, this was just the beginning, she said.

The actual challenge was in getting the funds at the right time and the quantum of money required was far more than other games for para athletes because of the additional challenges they faced, she said. While CSR funds were welcome, corporates needed to adopt athletes and monitor the performance closely, Malik added.

Renowned sports journalist Boria Majumdar, who moderated the session, said countries such as Jamaica and Croatia whose sports infrastructure does not match even that of India were producing world-class, medal-winning athletes. Apart from IPL, he said, all the existing leagues like, ISL and badminton in India are struggling to survive financially.

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