A clutch of entrepreneurs is pooling money to back the dreams of Indian sportspersons, in what they hope is a ‘win-win’ business model. The investors, an eclectic band that includes a royal, a lawyer, a chartered accountant and some businessmen, plan to provide top-class training to athletes who sign with them, and generate profits to make the venture financially viable.

The enterprise, Anglian Medal Hunt Company, is led by Uday Narang and Sandeep Narang of investment firm Anglian Holdings. The Narangs also own Danish football club FCV Vikings. Other investors include Pradyot Burma (a member of the Tripura royal family), Ajay Agarwal, Peter Vaz, Sharat Prakash and Seema Gupta.

“Our strategy is simple. Catch them young, focus on confidence-building exercises, customised diets and high-altitude training abroad. And follow a sustainable profit model,” said Maneesh Bahuguna, CEO, AMHC, speaking to Business Line. “We aim to train 50 sportspersons by summer next year,” added Bahuguna, a former civil servant.

The sportspersons will be offered long-term contracts with an exit clause, under which AMHC promises to bear all medical expenditure.

Anglian Medal Hunt differs from other such initiatives, which are not-for-profit affairs and depend on corporate donations.

“We do not want to depend on others for funds. We are following a ‘for-profit’ revenue model, which presumes that some of these sportspersons will win medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games, and finally at the big one, the Olympics. This, in turn, will unlock endorsement value, which will bring in profits,” said Bahuguna.

The company has tied up with talent management firm IOS Sports and Entertainment , which will seek brand endorsements for players. AMHC will share in any commissions and the money thus earned will be ploughed back into the company

To begin with, the company will focus on identifying and grooming talent in boxing, shooting, badminton, swimming and athletics. Thus far, it has roped in 12 sportspersons, including players who did well in the last Olympics, such as boxers Shiva Thapa, Devendro Singh, Gaurav Bhiduri and Sarjubala Devi.

Other sportspersons on the roster include athletes Neetu Kumari, Navjeet Kaur Dhillon and Khushbir Kaur, and swimmer Vaania Achuthan.

“We are committed to supporting these sportspersons for the next seven-eight years, considering we have chosen some as young as 11,” added Bahuguna.

On immediate goals, Bahuguna said he hoped the sportspersons would win one or two medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year. “Based on this performance, we will zero in on our targets for the Rio Olympics,” he added.

meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 30, 2013)
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