With more than two decades in the 21st century, it is certain to say that the accessibility of the Internet has been the biggest turning point for humankind. The easy access to high-speed internet connectivity with the availability of good quality camera phones has led the world to LIVE stream. The sports industry is one such industry that has hugely benefited from this development. Broadcasting local-level matches have given better exposure to emerging athletes and opened up a horizon of opportunities for them. Now, the sports ecosystems across the world, and especially in India have started to feel the need to adopt digitization at a larger scale by not just LIVE streaming matches but also maintaining and analysing the statistical data for players. The sports authorities at the district and state level in India have now started to build a selection process on the basis of that data which can later help the player to enter the national level circuit.
The OTT streaming of LIVE matches had already ensured that the geographical barriers don’t play a part in the player’s journey of getting discovered and a freer and natural give and take of talent and opportunities is open. Combined with player tracking and performance analysis, the domestic sports structure in India is upgrading itself to the standards of the national and international level. Today, several sporting bodies and sports associations across India and predominantly in Maharashtra have entered into exclusive partnerships with private entities that provide digitisation solutions to the domestic sports events at affordable prices and accessible means.
SportVot, a Mumbai based sports-tech startup is currently leading the revolution by signing exclusive partnerships with key sports associations such as the Maharashtra State Kabaddi Association, Raigad District Kabaddi Association, Thane District Kabaddi Association, and Nashik District Cricket Association. The most experienced and trusted sports platform for discovering the grassroots talent in India, SportVot along with being an OTT platform has developed an in-built cloud studio to provide hassle-free streaming solutions to sporting organisations and has brought together all the entities from the sports ecosystem. While sporting organisations use the platform to list and broadcast their games, players use the platform to maintain their data in the form of individual player profiles. This has led to local players getting a portfolio of sorts for themselves to showcase their game. These player profiles help the selectors understand the player’s journey and assess his/her performance and make an informed decision.
The cloud studio concept and mobile streaming facility has proven to be useful because sports associations at the district level or private sporting bodies functioning at the grassroots level do not have exorbitant budgets that can accommodate media coverage and expenses. However, with affordable internet and easy access to smartphones, the cost of streaming a match reduces tremendously and the local matches and the local athletes get a premium quality, professional level coverage with added benefits of data tracking and analysis. This has led to teams and selectors looking at data as a key factor in the selection process even at the grassroots level.
In a recent incident, Mrs. Shraddha Gambhir, a selection committee member for the 49th State Level Championship 2022 elaborated on how the availability of data and video footage helped them in selecting the right players who went on to become the champions at the tournament. Shraddha excerpts, “A selector’s job is not easy as we have to analyse and understand each and every athlete’s performance, his/her strengths, and weaknesses and choose from over 2000 athletes a team of 12 most suitable players who provide the maximum win percentage. The selection process for the Maharashtra State level Kabaddi Championship was no different, but with trustworthy data at hand and access to review the previous performances of the players, our job was made easy. All the 12 players that represented the Mumbai Suburbs Kabaddi Associations women’s team were profiled on SportVot and thus, we got access to their previous performances from various tournaments. This largely helped us in understanding the player’s potential and actually helped us discover some hidden talent in the city.
The testament to Mrs. Shraddha Gambhir’s experience has been with a young athlete named Neha Pandav, who belonged to the sub-junior’s category, but her performance across tournaments prompted the selectors to promote her to the junior’s category in the Mumbai Upnagar Junior Women’s Kabaddi team. Neha played a crucial part in winning the tournament. One more such example is Aakash Rudele, a young Kabaddi player from the junior men’s category who participated in the Maha Mumbai Kabaddi League. Aakash’s performance throughout the league was spectacular, while his team failed to make it to the finals, he was amongst the top performers from the league. The league was entirely digitised by SportVot. Aakash’s player data and his performance in the Maha Mumbai Kabaddi League caught the attention of some of the selectors and he got a call to play for Bharat Petroleum’s Kabaddi team.
Athletes like Akash and Neha are the future of Indian sports and introducing and adapting sports digitization at the grassroots level is a way to empower them to flourish and reach their maximum potential and bring glory to the sports culture in India!