‘Support system, business model vital for sporting success in India’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 15, 2017

Vijay Amritraj, legendary Tennis player and Founder of Vijay Amritraj Foundation, at an event organised by the Chennai International Centre on Saturday   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Former tennis star Vjiay Amritraj urges athletes to get out of traditional mindsets

“We need to put a support system in place and run it like a business” with the purity of sport and merit as the only consideration – that is the former tennis champion Vijay Amritraj’s suggestion for putting India on the global sports map.

“It is tough to handle a sport where a committee is involved,” he remarked at an interaction organised by the Chennai International Centre on Saturday.

He recalled that in his early years, when people heard that he played tennis, they always wanted to know what he did for a living. But youngsters “today can say I play tennis for a living” the mindset and nature of sports has changed. For India to make a mark, a support system that creates hundreds of athletes who can be sent to the international stage is needed, he felt.

For the individual athlete, he said exercise is the key. Also competing at a regional level and then at the global level are vital. On the global stage, training, food, diet and sacrifice decide the winners, he said.

“There are no guarantees in sport. The risk factor is high,” pointed out Amritraj. Indians, especially athletes from Tamil Nadu, need to get out of the traditional mindset of a safety net of a college degree followed by a job.

At the interaction with Vivek Reddy, former CEO, Kothari Pioneer Mutual Fund, Amritraj spoke on a wide range of topics starting from his early days as a budding tennis player to the international stage in Wimbledon, the US Open and India’s Davis Cup Captain leading the team to the finals twice and his stint in Hollywood and as a UN Messenger of Peace.

Visiting the US and the UK in the 1970s had been an opportunity to study the world, he said.

From there to travelling the world as UN Messenger of Peace had all come from tennis and his early years in Chennai, which gave him a sense of family, community and belonging. And he continues to learn from every interaction he had with youngsters, he said.

CIC, promoted by a group of prominent Chennai citizens with diverse interests, acts as a platform for thought leaders to share their views and to interact and discuss a wide range of issues.

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Published on January 15, 2017
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