Indian sports ecosystem thrives in 2023: A year in review

Indian sports ecosystem thrives in 2023: A year in review

In 2023, India experienced record-breaking feats and notable breakthroughs in various sports.

Indian sports

Mumbai: In 2023, India witnessed a remarkable period filled with record-breaking feats and notable breakthroughs across various sporting domains. It has undoubtedly been a monumental one for the Indian sports ecosystem through significant achievements including:

In the Union Budget 2023: The sports sector has received its highest-ever budget allocation in history. With an over 300 crore jump, the sports sector has received Rs 3397.32 Cr allocation in the new FY 2023-24 Union Budget. Khelo India received a whopping 1045 Cr funding.

Asian Games Glory: Setting a new benchmark with a record-breaking haul of 107 medals, the nation's athletic prowess took centre stage, contributing significantly to this remarkable achievement. Notably, the standout performance in athletics marked phenomenal growth, accounting for approximately 20 per cent of the total medals—a testament to the country's escalating dominance on the sporting stage compared to previous editions.

Following are the quotes from personalities on how things went for the Indian sports ecosystem in 2023, achievements and milestones by their company this year and what they are aiming for in 2024:

Punit Balan Group chairman & MD Punit Balan

The past year has been a monumental journey for the Indian sporting landscape, especially for non-cricketing sports, and we take immense pride in the significant strides made by the Punit Balan Group in the sporting industry. Our strategic investments in over nine leagues, both nationally and internationally, have contributed toward creating a thriving and sustainable ecosystem for Olympic, indigenous and non-Olympic sports in the country.

The success of Mumbai Khiladis, the Ultimate Kho Kho team, serves as a powerful testament to the growing appeal of non-cricketing leagues among brands as well as the audience. This season, we achieved a remarkable milestone by securing massive sponsorships that only vindicate the market dynamics as well as also highlight the confidence that sponsors place in our vision for the growth of sports in India.

Taking our influence to the global stage, PBG had acquired a team, PBG Eagles in the World Tennis League played in Abu Dhabi and what is even more heartening is winning the World Tennis League Season Two title. This strategic move was a big step toward establishing our footprint across the global sporting market, having the world’s best players, including World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev.

At PBG, our commitment is not limited to mere team ownership in mainline sports. We are devoted to empowering athletes and propelling them toward their Olympic dreams. A case in point is our Handball League team, which also became the season one champion. With the Paris Olympics in mind in 2024, our focus is to increase our support for more athletes, offering them the necessary resources and backing to excel internationally.

A shining example of this commitment is Indian Tennis Star Rutuja Bhosale, a PBG-supported athlete who clinched a gold medal in mixed doubles tennis at the Asian Games this year. Her triumph brought glory to our nation and fueled her aspirations for an Olympic berth, for which she is currently working hard.

In 2024, our focus will remain on creating a lasting impact in the sports industry, supporting athletes, and continuing to build sustainable sporting business models for non-cricketing sports, inspiring more people to invest in sports and building a strong stakeholder ecosystem.

Ultimate Kho Kho CEO and league commissioner Tenzing Niyogi

The year 2023 was distinguished by historic milestones and remarkable achievements for indigenous sports, with Ultimate Kho Kho spearheading the charge. In a groundbreaking initiative, Ultimate Kho Kho has achieved a significant milestone this year as it secured Series A funding from the UK-based BNP Group and became the first sports league in India to secure private equity investment and was a testament to our commitment to propelling the trajectory of Kho-Kho, both within India and on the global stage.

In our continued pursuit of making Ultimate Kho Kho larger, bolder, and the ultimate source of entertainment for Bharat, we strategically selected Odisha as the host for the highly anticipated Season 2. This decision was fueled by the ambition of elevating the profile of Kho Kho across the nation, and Odisha, being the sports infrastructure capital of India, provided the ideal platform for our vision. Beyond the promise of thrilling Kho Kho action, Season 2 marked the introduction of the NextGen. Thirty-three exceptionally talented players, aged between 16 and 18, were drafted, reflecting UKK's dedication to identifying and nurturing emerging talent.

Another significant accomplishment was the nomination of Nasreen Shaikh, the Indian women's Kho Kho captain, for the prestigious Arjuna Award. This recognition is a substantial boost to women’s Kho Kho and sets the stage for the much-anticipated women’s Ultimate Kho Kho league in the country, which is currently in the works. Looking towards 2024, we aim to build an even more robust structure of Ultimate Kho Kho, driven for the players (both men’s & women’s) and inducting new team owners to develop the Kho Kho universe.

U Mumba CEO Suhail Chandhok

The sports ecosystem in the country has grown by leaps and bounds in 2023, transitioning from a nation of sports spectators towards becoming a truly dedicated sporting nation. This is evident in our remarkable performance at the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games, where we secured 107 and 111 medals, respectively. We are taking significant steps away from just Cricket too and to a diverse range of sports, reflecting our dedication to fostering a comprehensive sporting culture.

Personally, through the strides made in Kabaddi through the Yuva Kabaddi series, we have witnessed a substantial boost at the grassroots level and its positive impact extending to the Pro Kabaddi League. Our investment in young talent is yielding results and we are confident that we are on the right track in terms of empowering the youth through sport.

From the U Mumba perspective, we eagerly anticipate building on our early successes in the Pro Kabaddi League and aim to secure a spot in the playoffs this season. Through the Yuva Kabaddi series, we reached over 1000 Kabaddi players in 2023, and our goal is to surpass that number in the upcoming year. We aim to contribute more players to the Pro Kabaddi League and extend our impact to women's Kabaddi across various states, establishing ourselves as a Pan-India sports product.

The year 2023 has been a significant and positive chapter for sports in India, and we are looking forward to carrying this momentum into the future.

Gamepoint co-founder & CEO Aditya Reddy

In 2023, we experienced the first full year without any effects of Covid. The Indian sports ecosystem bounced back strongly achieving significant milestones in major international sports events. For instance, in the Asian Games, India surpassed a three-figure mark for the first time in the medal tally, securing 107 medals. Our remarkable journey in the Cricket World Cup included reaching the finals with ten consecutive wins. As common people returned to playing sports, there was a renewed interest. The government also played an active role by increasing India's sports budget for FY 2023-24 by 11 per cent with a major chunk allocated to Khelo India to actively promote sports culture in India. Additionally, numerous sports startups emerged, while existing ones expanded operations nationwide.

In 2023, Gamepoint trained 4000 students, enabled more than 1 lakh people to play sports and conducted 100 plus corporate sport events. Significant milestones for the company include partnering with Decathlon to promote sports and the launch of a new sport, Pickleball, at Gamepoint. On the financial side, an important achievement was to become EBITDA positive which is rare for sports companies in India.

In 2024, we are looking forward to making an even bigger impact on the participative sports market and expanding Gamepoint from eight centres in one city to 16 centres in three cities. Also, the target in 2024 will be to increase our revenue share by 50 per cent.