Bridges of Sports: Bridging the Gap between Underserved Kids and their Career in Sports

7 min read
Image Source: Deccan Chronicle

“Kites rise against, not with the wind” – Bridges of Sports

 

Problem Statement: The BIG gap between sports and related opportunities

Ever wondered why there is an acute shortage of medals or the potential athletes as compared to other countries? Forget infrastructure, availability of leaders or coaches who could guide our young, passionate athletes, are also low.

Image Source: Bridges of Sports

According to a report, “There is an annual shortage of 40,000 physical education teachers and over 30,000 coaches in India. The demand for support personnel (trainers, psychologists, nutritionists) will reach around 80,000 for each in 2022. The Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan  (PYKKA) scheme by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports was initiated to build the capability of community coaches, aiming to produce 20,000 every year. However, since its inception in 2008, it has only produced 28,500 community coaches. Collectively, there is an actual need to bridge the gap of 2 million sports and sports-related jobs.”

We’ve harped the problem enough, so is there anyone out there trying to bridge the gap?

Image Source: The Logical Indian

Yes, there is. An organization known as Bridges of Sports aims to create an integrated sports ecosystem by connecting grassroots talent to elite development programs. This Bengaluru-based non-profit startup provides children from economically and socially backward communities a platform to have a career in sports and guide them for international level competitions.

 

Bridges of Sports: Tapping the Untapped Sports Potential of the Underprivileged

Image Source: Bridges of Sports

Bridges of Sports is trying to provide an opportunity for children to train, excel, and have a bright future in the sports career. Founded by Nitish Chiniwar in September 2016, the organization works on the solitary aim to enhance career opportunities for the children from tribal and underserved communities, by using sports as a tool.

 In an interview to Deccan Chronicle, Nitish had quoted, “The talent is abundant, but the problem is there aren’t even the basic requirements like equipment and training in the rural areas of the country. When I came back from completing my degree in the UK last August I saw this gap and I really wanted to fill it.”

This is where Bridges of Sports comes in. They aim for the successful generation of livelihood at the grassroots sports level. This will not just help build a sustainable sports ecosystem but will have a wider implication on education and health too.

 

Building a strong community of Local Coaches and Potential Athletes

Image Source: The Logical Indian

 The Fellowship Model: For the local people, by the local people

  • At a core level, Bridges of Sports is creating a network of grassroots coaches through their fellowship models.
  • The fellowship is designed to provide additional incentives to the fellows who engage with community members (Panchayat, Local leaders from villages) to improve the access to sports infrastructure and training in those places.
  • This startup recruits local athletes as coaches (fellows) and provides them with sports gear and institutional support for training.
  • These fellows have to undergo interval skills program where they are offered training on technology and curriculum to coach.
  • By recruiting local talent and empowering them, they put a person on the field that has a thorough idea about his locality. In the long run, these fellows can become micro-entrepreneurs band and set up their own academy.

This community is further engaged by partnering with local small enterprises to produce almost half of their equipment requirements. Together with this 3 pronged approach, they are not only making community stakeholders but this holistic involvement of the community is making the movement sustainable in the long run.

With some top-notch athletes, Bridges of Sports work with kids from backward communities. With an opportunity to train and excel in sports, these kids are coached at schools by the community people – all those who have dedicated their 2 years to be on fellowship as coaches.

This will not only help in generating ground-level kids become future medalist athletes in our country but will also create entrepreneurial opportunities for these fellow coaches, post the fellowship. 

 

Sneak-Peek into their Campaigns and Achievements

With more than 60 community coaches at more than 20 schools and covering 3 states, Bridges of Sports have been able to guide 1800+ students through their initiative, until now.

  • A Program for the Siddi Community

Image Source: Bridges of Sports

Siddi community represents Indo-Africans who have faced racism even after residing in India for over 400 years. They failed to get any sustained support from Sports Authority of India for their training despite them excelling in Athletics in the early ’90s. False promises for over 6 decades, since independence, coupled with racism had left them with nothing to do.

Hence, to support the Siddi community, Bridges of Sports started a sports program where their fellows travelled across 800kms into the forests of Karnataka to meet these children. The fellow convinced Siddi parents to let them join schools and get training in sports.

And what a change! Currently, more than 150 children are receiving training at local community schools and have clinched 20 medals at the State Athletics Meet. and promote their talent in sports.

The social impact generated through this campaign was so strong that Siddis are now channelizing their energy into better values. With Siddis finally moving out of seclusion, social impact that has been generated due to this has been huge.

  • PATANG: Giving wings to Athletic dreams

Planning Athletic Training and Nurturing Grassroots Development (PATANG) program is a complete athlete pathway curated for the holistic development of budding athlete kids.

 

This program is for the local government schools and tribal children. Under this, the children are provided with a structured sports training for 300 hours, after school hours. The training is provided by the best of local athletes. All these children are motivated to participate in the athletics meet which includes the 5-month annual PATANG league – India’s first time-based grassroots athletics community league.

Bridges of Sports (BOS) Academy

As a part of the PATANG program, children who meet the BOS benchmark timings, get selected to be a part of BOS Academy. This academy offers full support to the children for their bright future in sports – right from coaching, training, nutrition and personal training.

  • National Sports Corps: Nurturing Next-Gen Athletes

Under a program by Bridges of Sports, National Sports Corps aims to create employment in the sports niche. This consists of ex-athletes, physical education teachers, coaches and volunteers from the local community. They are trained and placed in schools and communities as coaches on a two-year fellowship.

An athlete is an athlete, no disparity. Image Source: Bridges of Sports

NSC is not only creating safe play places by providing sports mentorship and facilities at local govt schools but also aims to identify grass-roots sportspersons and encouraging them to participate in the taluk, state or national level tournaments.

A Case Study

Praveen, a coach for blindly-impaired people has trained Karate to over 10,000 children and over 50 visually-impaired people, Along with Bridges of Sports, Praveen is now leading the Karate and all differently abled verticals of sports training. Along with ample karate training sessions, BOS and Praveen have started BlindFootball across 2 districts of Karnataka. They are also on their way of creating a platform where differently abled schools in India can enrol and build their capacity to train and teach their children at least 2 sports.

List of Events done so far:

Patang program by BOS. Image Source: Bridges of Sports
  • Bridges of Sports has conducted district-level sports meet for differently-abled children in Chikkamagaluru district in association with Special Olympics Bharat on March 19th, 2017.
  • On April 6th, 2017, on the eve of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, BOS introduced Blind Football for the visually impaired at Asha Kiran Blind School in Chikkamagaluru.
  • They hosted the ten-day Sports Social Development tour in Karnataka for an NGO, My Angels Academy (based in Vikaspuri Slum, Delhi), to create awareness about the possibilities of sports in social and economic development.

With these and many more initiatives to follow, Bridges of Sports is on its firm path to give every possible opportunity to learn, play and excel in sports.

To empathise, to scale and to empower the future of sports for kids is what Bridges of Sports is all about!

Way to go!

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Lover of cultures, varied colors, and underdogs, Bhawna is a by-heart and professional playwright. Hailing from a journalism & communication background, she incorporates a careful study at both flips of the coin which is essentially required to be analytical in thoughts and words. Actively abreast of the current affairs around the globe, she likes knowing and bringing into light the unexplored. Problem solving via the power of content is what inspires her and hence KreedOn, a platform created for the betterment of sports ecosystem in India, is now her happy workplace!

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