Playing is paying

Go out and play. Its serious business now, says Patricia Mascarenhas while exploring the job opportunities that come with playing a sport.

Intro: Go out and play. Its serious business now, says Patricia Mascarenhas while exploring the job opportunities that come with playing a sport.
Are you passionate about sports? Do you excel in playing one? If you’re then consider sticking to it as it could land you a dream job where you may have best of both the worlds. You can play the sport you love and work at the same time. “Today, a lot of companies reserve seats and have quotas for those who come from sports background. Moreover there are many organisations that are creating and opening up new avenues for young talent,” says Prabhu Srinivasan, CEO, KOOH Sports. 

Many government as well as private sectors such as Indian Railway, Indian Oil Corp, Air India, State Bank of India, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), Reserve Bank of India have long been promoting sports in the country and have many sportspersons on their pay rolls. “The idea is to motivate sports in the country, explore talent, give best opportunities and extract maximum potential of the sportsperson,” says Dilip Pinge, DGM-Sports and Secretary- Air India Sports Promotion Board. Ten-time former badminton national champion and Indian Oil Corp employee Aparna Popat also agrees further adding that sportspersons help improve the company status by representing their organizations at tournaments and taking part in branding and marketing.

Some of the Indian Oil Corp recruits include cricketers Wasim Jaffer, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, snooker player Aditya Mehta and chess player Surya Shekhar Ganguly. Air India has also recruited sportspersons of national and international repute like cricket veterans Pravin Amre and Narendra Hirwani, football players Jacintho D’Silva and Godfred Perreira, hockey players Dhanraj Pillay, Zafar Iqbal etc. “We have around 175 sports persons from different sport categories working with us,” says Popat. Like many other companies, their company also provides scholarships to athletes. Air India also inducts players on scholarship basis. “They are given a playing kit and monthly stipend. Besides they also get international passage on firm basis to play / train abroad,” adds Pinge.

The criteria to qualify for the quota jobs vary. The candidates are hired by two ways, namely talent scouting and advertising. The age limit in both these cases is 18-25 years. “It is based on the performance and achievements of a sportsperson in competitive sports at the district / state / national level. They must also have the minimal educational qualification required for the course that the person has applied for,” says Chenraj Roychand, Founder Chairman, JGI Group.

In a country like India where education surpasses passion, many sportspersons are apprehensive of the future prospects of the sport. But with the growing opportunities and encouragement provided by the government and other multinational companies, athletes are now given a platform to pursue their passion of sports along with a secure stipend. “The secure job is one of the advantages because this helps them concentrate on the game as they have something to fall back on after they’re done with their stint,” says Popat. Footballer and RBI employee, Rolfred Coutinho agrees, “I am glad to be a part of this prestigious institution. It’s like killing two birds with one stone as I am able to follow my dream and at the same time create a secure future.”