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Tata Steel and sports – an enduring legacy

September 23, 2021
 

Tata Steel has a long and enduring legacy of continued commitment to the cause of sports. Before the Steel Works was set up at Jamshedpur (then known as Sakchi), our Founder, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, wrote to his son Dorab instructing him to “reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks”. India’s participation in the Olympics was made possible by Sir Dorab Tata, an athlete, expert rower, and a fine horseman himself. He financed the national contingent to the Antwerp Olympics in 1920 and bore part of the expenses incurred on India’s participation in the Paris Olympics held in 1924. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was formed in 1927 with Sir Dorab as its first President. The IOA selected the Indian team for the 1928 Olympics held at Amsterdam, where India won the gold medal in hockey.

Ever since, the senior leadership of Tata Steel has worked towards fruition of the Founder’s vision of sports being an integral part of Tata Steel’s corporate philosophy. Indeed, sports is a way of life at Tata Steel. The Company has endeavoured to promote and develop an array of sports and has set up state-of-the-art sports infrastructure not only in and around its areas of operations but beyond. Today, very few cities in the country can boast of the kind of sports infrastructure that exists in Jamshedpur.

To encourage its employees, their families and other stakeholders to participate in sports, Tata Steel has invested in infrastructure that supports various kinds of sports, such as archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, chess, cricket, football, golf, handball, kabaddi, karate, skating, swimming, tennis, table tennis, volleyball and adventure sports. A Sports High Performance Centre with world-class infrastructure has been set up. Tata Steel has also joined hands with Sports Authority of India for extension centres in athletics and boxing. Tata Steel has also ventured into commercial sports through its own Jamshedpur Football Club that has been participating in the Indian Super League since 2017.

Four Centres of Excellence, namely Tata Football Academy, Tata Archery Academy, TSAF Climbing Academy and Naval Tata Hockey Academy, have been established to enable fulfilment of the aspirations of the youth in the country.

Tata Football Academy: Tata Football Academy (TFA) was established by Tata Steel Sports Foundation in the year 1987. The academy was conceived to nurture budding Indian footballers, train them in a scientific manner and raise the overall standards of Indian Football. TFA identifies and shortlists raw talent from across the country. Selected candidates join up for a four-year residential programme.

The Academy not only provides intensive training but also provides all-round development opportunities with facilities for formal education and vocational training. The fully residential programme includes amenities such as lodging and boarding, monthly stipend, summer and winter clothing, ceremonial kits, comprehensive medical care, a group insurance scheme, foreign exposure, and other benefits.

Equipped to match international standards, TFA is built on a 25,000 sq.ft. of land located amidst green surroundings in the centre of the city of Jamshedpur. The idea is to provide an ideal ambience for promising footballers to develop to their fullest potential.

Till date, 252 cadets have graduated from TFA, of whom 147 have represented the country while 24 cadets have captained the Indian football team in various age-group tournaments.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has recognised TFA’s contribution and honoured it for `Continuous Contribution to Indian Football’. AIFF had also upgraded TFA to `Four Star Accreditation’ rating for the 2019-20 football season.

Tata Archery Academy: Since archery is a preferred sport among the community, especially tribal youth, living in and around our areas of operations, Tata Archery Academy (TAA) was formed in 1986 to identify and train potential among the youth in archery and inspire them to achieve excellence in national and international-level archery tournaments. The academy organises talent search programmes, identifies and trains young archers and equips them to achieve their goals. The cadets are provided with a world class ecosystem for excellence in archery with state-of-the-art infrastructure and highly qualified coaches. Till date, around 156 cadets of TAA have participated at the national level while 53 cadets have participated at the international level, including the Olympics.

TAA is also accredited to the Khelo India Talent Development Programme of Sports Authority of India.

TSAF Sport Climbing Academy: TSAF Sport Climbing Academy was established in 2020 to train athletes in sport climbing for participation in the Olympics, global tournaments, and national competitions. The academy selects and grooms climbing talent from across the country. To augment the awareness and reach of the sport at the grassroots level, TSAF Sport Climbing Academy has installed five modular climbing walls at rural schools around Jamshedpur. TSAF climbers have won more than 20 medals at the national, and around 50 medals at State-level and zonal championships.

Naval Tata Hockey Academy: India has a glorious past in hockey and has won eight gold medals in the Olympics. The States of Jharkhand and Odisha have produced several talented hockey players who have excelled at the national and international levels. The Naval Tata Hockey Academy (NTHA) was established in 2017 to identify and train talent in the sport and bring back the glorious days of hockey to Jharkhand and India. Tata Steel and Tata Trusts, along with Floris Jan Bovelander (Director of `One Million Hockey Legs’) of Netherlands have joined hands to promote hockey in the State of Jharkhand. Currently, 20 hockey centres are operational in two districts of Jharkhand to promote hockey at the grassroots level.

Additionally, Tata Steel, along with Tata Trusts and the Government of Odisha, has set up another Hockey Academy at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The Hockey High Performance Centre (Naval Tata Hockey Academy, Odisha) is the apex hockey training institute in Odisha and is focussed on identifying and grooming talent among hockey players for performances at the national and international levels. 

Tata Steel Adventure Foundation: Founded by the legendary mountaineer Ms Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mt Everest in 1984, Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) is an outbound leadership institute which, through its wide range of activities, aims at developing able leaders for the future through identification of their limits of mental and physical endurance. It allows people from all walks of life and all ages to choose their own metaphor for self-discovery. True to its philosophy of experiential learning, TSAF believes that no classroom is better than nature and no teacher is better than your own will.

TSAF recognises the different leadership styles and the changing needs across different levels of management, and so it does not practice one-fits-all model. The courses are customised according to the needs of the participating organisation. The outbound leadership programmes consists of a series of experiential games, outdoor team activities and coordinated group tasks simulated in a natural environment that are instrumental in imparting valuable team-building lessons to the participants.

Participants in the programmes fly in the sky, swim in the waters, live in the woods and breathe under the stars learning the skills and the values that go towards serving them and their colleagues. Participants come out as confident, self-aware, creative, tolerant and, most importantly, as leaders.  

In addition to its flagship outbound leadership programme, several other courses are conducted by TSAF like mountaineering, parasailing, rock climbing, water sports, etc. Each course is a certification course thereby giving the participant a sense of fulfilment and achievement at the end of it.

Over the years, TSAF has enabled 10 individuals to summit Mt Everest.

TSAF’s Mission Gange initiative, undertaken in October 2018, comprised 40 volunteers from Tata Steel who went on a rafting expedition from Haridwar to Patna cleaning garbage from the banks of the river Ganga. This sparked nation-wide awareness on the need to contain environmental pollution and preserve the natural ecosystem.

Jamshedpur Football Club: Tata Steel has a long association with the game of football, which is a favourite sport of the youth, especially in eastern India. Way back in the 1980s, the Company introduced the Super Soccer Series which attracted top international clubs like Sao Paulo (Brazil), Bochum XI (Germany) and PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) to participate and play against Indian teams in India.

In 2017, Tata Steel embarked on the commercial sports domain with the launch of Jamshedpur Football Club, which debuted in the Indian Super League, the premier football league in India. The idea behind the initiative was to provide a fillip to the football ecosystem in India in general and Jharkhand in particular.

With a sizeable section of the population in its operational areas comprising tribals, Tata Steel has also invested in the promotion of tribal sports. Tribes in Jharkhand had a tradition of playing traditional games, which have withered away with time. Tata Steel’s Tribal Cultural Society has been making consistent efforts to revive and promote traditional tribal games such as Kati, Sekkor, Chhur, Bahu Chor and Ramdel. The Company also organises various tribal sports tournaments to engage with the tribal youth.

Over the years, around 150 international sportspersons have been associated with Tata Steel. They include nearly 30 Olympians, one Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Puraskar awardee, one Dhyan Chand awardee, six Dronacharya awardees, 12 Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awardees and 42 Arjuna awardees, among others.

For its contribution to sports, the Company has been conferred with several awards over the years, including the `Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar 2009’ in the category i) Community Sports – Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent & Establishment and ii) Management of Sports Academies of Excellence. Once again, in 2010, Tata Steel won the `Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar’ in the category `Financial Support for Sports Excellence’.

This year, India sent its largest-ever contingent to the Tokyo Olympics and witnessed best-ever performance. It’s time for us to once again pay our obeisance to the visionary, Sir Dorabji Tata, whose impassioned efforts propelled India into the Olympics arena for the first time just over a hundred years ago.

Author:

Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel

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