From A Sports Loving Nation India Needs To Become A Sports Playing Nation

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Captain Ameya Kocheraker CEO, Proforce

Captain Ameya Kocheraker is a thought leader in the K12 segment of Sports Education. He has an overall experience of 22 years in corporate and armed forces jointly. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Proforce

Proforce proudly stands with three national medals in fencing for girls, three natural trophies in hockey for a school at different age groups,48 state and district trophies for various sports and 598 state and district medals.

Tell us about your startup Proforce and what was the idea behind setting it up?

Proforce takes a lot of pride in its tagline symbolising “Professionalism of Forces in Sports”. It is into holistic sports education with the K-12 segment of schools in India. Proforce works on enhancing the school sports performance in different sports. Why it started also has a story behind it. So when I look back at the past few generations, typically, all schools used to have only two or three PT periods in a week. Also, the kind of coaching at schools did not include many skills, and the sports infrastructure was also not sufficient. There were some gaps existing in the sports education ecosystem and K-12 segment when we started researching, wherein we came across three major gaps. They are:

• Even though the sports teachers in schools are qualified enough, the fact is that many of them have experience playing one or two sports but are expected to teach all kinds of games and sports. As per our research, less than 3% of the PE teachers have played a game or two at the national level but carry a B.PEd or M.PEd degree.
• None of our boards, be it CBSE, ICSE or the state boards, require that only national-level sports persons qualify as PE teachers.
• The student to teacher ratio in classrooms is well maintained. But on the ground, the student to PE teacher ratio is exceptionally large (for example, 1:100).

So when I saw the scenario of sports in schools, I was determined to create an environment wherein sports is inculcated as a part of the curriculum by trying to minimise the drawbacks.

After the big victory by Neeraj Chopra, do you think more Indian parents will push their children to take up sports as a career?

The unfortunate part is that the Olympics fever comes once every four years. People tend to forget about the victories and inspirations in the next two to three months. There is a certain kind of awareness among Indian parents. However, there is still a lot of scope wherein parents and society should start thinking of sports as a career and not just a skill or a hobby.

Like IITs and IIMs, do you think we should have more dedicated professional institutes which will focus on the science of sports and not just the art or skill?

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Sports need to be focused in a completely scientific way. Many institutes like IIM Rohtak(which is running a sports management course) and Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences are there. Still, the only problem is that they need to come up with enough job opportunities as well. How do you think that sports help in the personality development of an individual? None of the school curriculum books covers life skills as a subject. There are 25 important life skills like determination, team play, acceptance of failure, coming up with the same spirit the next day etc, which are actually learnt on the ground. These are more important than securing good grades and a good career. How was your journey or transition from an armed forces officer to an entrepreneur? The journey from armed forces to entrepreneurship was never a well-planned journey. The constant motivation to start my own venture was that I was always thinking about the gaps in sports education due to my experience as a child, and I wanted to change sports education completely. I did not want my child to go through the same scenario. I still try to involve national-level sports officers as coaches in schools and institutes armed forces officers.