Sports means different things to different people, particularly in a country like India where sports can espouse extreme sense of loyalty and flaring up of emotions. A fairly large part of the 1.35 billion+ Indians has at least one sport they follow closely, more often than not either cricket, football or tennis. While our tastes and temperament with regards to sports may differ what we usually agree on is this: sporting excellence is a gold standard soft power and it is perhaps one of the most desirable ways to build a nation.
We can see a lot of steam is already gathering around the 127-athelete Indian Olympic contingent (#Cheer4India) that is set to take part in the summer Olympics at Tokyo, Japan that is set to open on July 23 this year. India has had a mixed past when it comes to bringing home Olympic medals but support for the team has never diminished. While winning is important, global sporting events are but milestones on the road to perfection. Every four years, individuals try to excel their own records first before breaking those set by others while nations build a young and a healthy generation.
Sports is much more than just a physical pursuit. Ask any sportsperson, coach, or team manager, you will get a long list of qualities and skills that sports delivers — character, honour, sportsmanship, team spirit, people and management skills etc. This is precisely why we must continue to increase our investment in sports, not just by the government and corporates, but also by equally significant institutions like schools & colleges, local bodies (particularly in rural India) and of course families.
Tata Steel’s passionate support for sports and the Olympics goes all the way back to early decades of 1900s, when Sir Dorabji Tata, son of Tata group’s founder Shri Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, made India’s participation in Olympic possible as he financed the country’s first Olympic team, comprising 4 athletes and 2 wrestlers, at the 1920 Antwerp (Belgium) Olympics and also supported the Indian contingent for the 1924 Paris Olympics. In 1927, Sir Dorabji Tata also became the first President of the Indian Olympic Association.
Ever since, Tata Steel has worked towards fruition of the Founder’s vision of embedding Sports an integral part of its corporate philosophy and making it a way of life. As a committed and long-term patron of sports in India, the Company runs several projects in the country that covers a wide range of sporting disciplines including hockey, football, archery, chess, boxing, tennis, athletics and more. The endeavour is to identify and groom grassroots talent on one side while providing world-class training and opportunity to budding professionals on the other.
From world-class academies like Tata Football Academy, Tata Archery Academy and Naval Tata Hockey Academy to iconic institutions including Tata Steel Adventure Foundation; from training centres and sports high performance centres to new franchise like Jamshedpur Football Club, Tata Steel continues to invest in the future of sports. The Company has also worked towards building the sports infrastructure in the country, including JRD Tata Sports Complex, Keenan Stadium, Golf Courses (Beldih and Golmuri), Club houses and more, that are used as training centres for budding national and international sportspersons in addition to the kids and the community people. Tata Steel has also enabled sporting platforms like Tata Steel PGTI Golf, Tata Steel Chess India, Tata Steel Kolkata 25k Run to promote sports in India.
In essence, for the founding fathers and the leaders who followed them at Tata Steel, investing in sports is as significant as investing in a new plant to produce steel. Investing in sports is investing in ourselves. As we wish the best for the Indian team at Tokyo, we also wish to recall the seeds of passion for sporting excellence sowed by Sir Dorabji Tata who understood nation building in a truly holistic sense.