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Looking to contribute to development of Indian sports: Abhinav Bindra on Sports Leadership program for Indian sports administrator

Olympic gold medal-winning shooter Abhinav Bindra is part of the High-Performance Sports Leadership program for Indian sports administrators which is being organised by the Elms Sports Foundation with Abhinav Bindra Foundation as the knowledge partners. Speaking to Hindustan Times, the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist explained how he believes the course will help Indian sports administrators to get at par with the global sports practices.

“We have been trying to contribute to the development of Indian sport and to really work on the ecosystem that surrounds the Indian sport. And of course, the administration is a critical element going forward if we want to take sports to the next level in this country. We need people associated with sports organisations to be leaders so that they can be best supported to take various organisations to the next level.

“We have designed and curated a course very centric to India which is very important to contextualise any course that happens to a particular environment. That is what we are trying to achieve. We have a faculty from all across the world, especially from Loughborough University, which has been ranked the no. 1 for the past few years, in regards to sports. They have worked tremendously for the British Olympics team as well. The basic idea is to start this program for our administrators in an attempt to empower them with knowledge and get them up to speed to the global best practices,” the star shooter said.

Bindra said that the support given to athletes by government schemes has increased largely in the past few years, and the next step would be to strengthen the institutions that are working towards Olympic sports in the country. “That is the intention, to empower the institution and to empower the people associated with all sports organisation, to improve their knowledge base and to acquaint them to global best practice so that they can utilise and implement that knowledge in their own respective environment,” he said.

The inaugural program was delivered by the faculty from Loughborough University on Saturday morning under Bindra’s guidance in the presence of over 65 (SAI-16, State Govt/Others 24, Private 23, Media 2), ELMS Sports Foundation with the guidance of Abhinav Bindra is doing the program. “Because of Covid-19 we had to start off with this capsule online module,” Bindra said.

He further went on to give a detailed explanation of the first module which he said will be based on five pillars.

“The first module of this course will be based on five pillars. The first pillar will be sports organisational development. The second one will be emotional intelligence in leadership, which is very critical. When you are dealing with athletes, who are particularly sensitive human beings, and there is a particular way on how to lead them and how to deal with them. The third pillar is what we are working on is talent ID and development because going forward, if we have to match our aspirations for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, we obviously have to adapt the right talent for it, scientifically, and chart a course to nurture that talent from start to the end goal.

“The fourth pillar is what we are trying to work on is Strategy to Delivery. We always have plans, and schemes and learnings. The real proof is in the pudding, which is to implement and deliver on the plans in your organisation. We are working on the strategies to help leaders and administrators to implement the plans on various aspects of athlete preparation and competition. Also creating coach development structures for their performance management.

“The last pillar is what we are involving in this program is STEAM sport – STEAM team stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Analytics, and Medicine. These are elements that are critical in Olympic preparation and used by all Olympic powerhouses. It is 1 percent of sports that makes the difference between being good and great, and it really gives an understanding and critical evaluation of the applicant’s ability for Science, Technology, Engineering, Analytics, and Medicine in Olympic sports performance,” Bindra further explained.

“I think the course is a great opportunity for the leaders to learn more about global practices, and the whole idea is to make an attempt to empower them so that they can make better decisions and they can make better structures and processes within their organizations, based on a methodology based on science and global best practices,” he further said.

Advice to younger athletes on how to deal with mental health issues

Bindra, who has been quite vocal about mental health issues in the past, further gave advice to young athletes to deal with the pressures of being an athlete and said that they should work on maintaining a balance in their lives along with their performances. “My advice to younger athletes will be this – “Don’t believe in the equation that the gold medal is happiness. Reverse the equation that happiness is the gold medal,” he said.

“You must work on holistic development, and on yourself as human beings. Performance is an important element in their careers. But it is not the only element of who they are. They have to also develop as well rounded human beings.

“Sports is obviously an important pillar in their lives, but they should also keep different elements in their life to maintain a balance in what they do. That could start right from the beginning,” he said.

“As a young athlete, when you start off, it’s very easy to get into the phase where this is just sports, sports, sports, and performance, performance, performance, but you also have to look at it deeply, and work on the balance in whatever you do. That environment they have to create for themselves,” Bindra further added.

On resumption of training

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed till July next year, Bindra says that the shooters who have qualified for the multi-sport event have plenty of time to keep their performance levels at their best, despite missing out on weeks of regular training due to Covid-19 pandemic. The former India shooter, though, added that it is important that the athletes remain in good mental spirits at the time when they are away from the sport.

“Olympics are still one year down the road and that is more than enough time to be at their best. Of course, they have to rejig their plans because of the postponement. But the most important thing is to keep themselves in good space, to keep their minds refreshed. Even if they cannot train at the moment, the athletes must keep themselves busy with hobbies, so that when they return to training eventually, they do so with refreshed minds and renewed minds and hunger and train.

“I do believe there is enough training. What needs to be carefully done is to ensure that all the athletes remain in good space,” he signed off.

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