Will Union Budget boost catapult India to Olympic glory in Paris 2024 and beyond?

Will Union Budget boost catapult India to Olympic glory in Paris 2024 and beyond?

Stakeholders push for grassroots, corporate-backed leagues, NSF boost, PPP opportunity & GST cut

Union Budget

Mumbai: With the Paris Olympics on the horizon, the spotlight is blazing on India's sports sector as we eagerly await the Union Budget 2024. In 2023, the industry witnessed a historic budget boost, soaring by over Rs 300 Crores to reach Rs 3397.32 Cr – a testament to the government's commitment.

Khelo India emerged as the frontrunner with a whopping allocation of Rs 1045 Crores, playing a game-changing role. Now, with the global stage beckoning in Paris and future Olympic bids, the nation's sports enthusiasts are on the edge of their seats, anticipating how the upcoming budget will script India's sports narrative for the world.

Here are the quotes from the various industry experts on pre-Union Budget allocation for the sports sector

Punit Balan Group chairman & managing director Punit Balan expressed his optimism, stating, "Last year's significant boost in the sports budget showcased the government's commitment to supporting athletic talent. Considering the Paris Olympics 2024 this year, I hope to see a continued emphasis on encouraging and building future stars. The combination of grassroots initiatives like Khelo India and the professional leagues is essential for nurturing talent and ensuring a sustainable ecosystem for Indian sports."

Ultimate Kho Kho CEO and league commissioner Tenzing Niyogi emphasised the need for strategic allocations, noting, "Aligning with the nation's vision to host the 2036 Olympics under the leadership of our prime minister Shri Narendra Modi, we expect a strategic allocation for non-cricketing sports for infrastructure and talent development across diverse sporting disciplines. Furthermore, the allocation of funds from NSF is also of utmost importance as it will serve as a catalyst for nurturing grassroots programs and identifying as well as developing raw talent. An increase in the National Skill Development Fund is also imperative. This is not only in line with making India a multisport-playing nation but also with the creation of more opportunities through the PPP model to engage and entice additional corporate participation in the Sports Movement."

As the sporting landscape in India evolves, U Mumba CEO Suhail Chandhok emphasised the importance of channelling resources into the development of indigenous sports leagues, the identification of talent, and the nurturing of grassroots initiatives.

“With the rapid development of emerging homegrown sports leagues, we anticipate an allocation of funds to elevate their prominence in the country. We also hope for a strategic focus on talent identification and grassroots development which to me are crucial pillars for creating a vibrant sports ecosystem. Investing in these areas will not only promote but also contribute to the sustainable development of diverse sporting disciplines,” he said.

Addressing the crucial aspect of international-level coaching, facilities, and sports sciences, Yuva Kabaddi Series CEO Vikas K Gautam commented, "The allocation of funds towards the training of coaches is crucial, given the current lack of infrastructure and the absence of internationally standardized coaching facilities. It is imperative to recognize that only well-trained coaches can cultivate athletes to compete at the international level. Emphasis on holistic development programs, focusing on talent identification and nurturing, nutrition, and sports science, to create a well-rounded ecosystem for aspiring athletes.”

Gamepoint co-founder & CEO Aditya Reddy brought attention to the fiscal aspects of the sports sector, emphasizing that reducing GST could play a pivotal role in its transformation by remarking, "To transform the sports sector in India, it is imperative to encourage and incentivise private sports organisations. This can be made possible by reducing the GST on sports services from 18 per cent to 12 per cent, incentivising the establishment of sports goods manufacturing in India through a PLI scheme for sports equipment, and facilitating access to government, railways, and PSU sports facilities for the general public. If necessary, involving private organizations in managing these facilities under a PPP model can enhance both management and maintenance efficiency."