India Needs To Celebrate Athletes From All Disciplines – Shreya Sachdev

PUMA India's Head of Marketing explained how India can make further inroads in international competitions.

4 min read
Hindi Female

In a conversation with The Quint, Shreya Sachdev – Head of Marketing at PUMA India – spoke about India's progress in sports, and what needs to be done in the upcoming years.


PUMA India's Head of Marketing explained how India can make further inroads in international competitions.

Shreya Sachdev – Head of Marketing at PUMA India

(Photo: PUMA India)


What has been PUMA’s role in the success of women athletes at the Asian Games?

India’s performance keeps on getting better, and specifically, our women athletes continue to make us proud. In this particular Asian Games, we supported about 110 athletes across 14 sports.

More than 60% of them were women. Including Harmanpreet Kaur, Rhythm Sangwan, Aditi Swami. We try to support women athletes who actually take up sports in a country where professional sport is still very male-dominated.

I think it's our job to back these women and ensure that they get the support that they need. And we are creating a platform to celebrate them and their achievements, and what they've accomplished for the country.


What kind of athletes do you support? Do you explore at the grassroots level or stick to the more established ones?

Our approach to supporting athletes is across all fronts. If we talk specifically of grassroots, we've partnered with NGOs like Parcham, who support women from underprivileged backgrounds to take up football. These women face very serious challenges in terms of access to sport. Like, they can't be out late without a male chaperone.

Going further, there are athletes like Harmanpreet who have been trailblazers. She has really changed the way we view women's cricket. And we also support athletes like Mary Kom, who've already established themselves. But we also help athletes like a Rhythm Sangwan or an Aditi Swamy, who are just starting out, at 17, 18, or 19.


In a developing nation like India, how would you define the importance of sports?

We launched this campaign at the beginning of this year called ‘Let There Be Sport.’ The fundamental message that we want to give India is that there are a lot of merits in taking up sport in any shape or form – be it as a professional, or as an amateur.

Sport is an extremely important aspect of any developed country, and for us to progress as a country, it is very crucial. We need to have all genders participating, across all disciplines. It has to be a wholesome development and not just a one-discipline sport.


Explain what the campaign ‘Let There Be Sport’ is all about.

We believe sports can teach you real-life lessons which textbooks cannot. Picking up a sport is crucial to your fundamental growth and development as an individual. Yet, during a child’s academic and formative years, parents completely deprioritize sports to focus on studies.

We did this research with Nielsen and what we realized is that less than 20% of Indian adults meet the WHO recommended 150 minutes of physical exercise, which is essential for physical and mental well-being. And while Indian adults still spend about 101 minutes on an average per week on fitness, kids spend just 86.

So, we wanted to go out to the world and say ‘Listen, you can be somebody who works in a corporate office, you can be a child who doesn't want to grow up and be an athlete, that's fine, but incorporating sport in your day-to-day life in some shape or form is absolutely critical for you as a human being.’ ‘Let There Be Sport’ campaign was to inspire this country to take up a sport in some capacity.


We have seen India taking giant strides in competitions like the Asian Games. The next step for us, as a nation, is to aim to close the gap with the likes of USA & China. What do you think we should be doing to achieve that?

The first and most important thing will be to encourage people to take up sports at a younger age. Countries all across the world that do well in sports incorporate this culture of sports at a very young age.

Secondly, India's performance in non-cricket sports is improving year-on-year, because we are giving it that priority as a nation. We need to support athletes of all disciplines, celebrate athletes of all disciplines, and acknowledge their sacrifice and hard work.

These athletes work hard for years and years and years to represent India for just those two minutes at a global competition. We only see those two minutes and then we just recognize them after they've won a medal.

But it's important for our country to appreciate and celebrate the journeys of those athletes. Because only if we do that, only if those athletes are celebrated as much as we celebrate our cricketers, more and more people will be encouraged to take it up as a viable career path.

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Topics:  Olympics   Athletics   Asian Games 

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