JSW launches sports excellence programme

Mumbai: JSW Group thursday announced the launch of a long term plan to lift Indian sports for which it claims to have started building infrastructure for five disciplines at its steel plant in Bellary, Karnataka.

JSW Sports Excellence Programme encompasses the sporting disciplines of judo, wrestling, boxing, athletics and swimming and will be overseen directly by Parth Jindal, son of JSW Group`s Chairman and MD, Sajjan Jundal.

"JSW has embarked on a very ambitious journey to make our mark on Indian sports. We are setting up world class facilities in Karnataka in our steel plant in Bellary," said Jindal at a media conference today.

JSW has taken under its wings 28 sports men and women, including 12 who are part of the Indian contingent for the July 23-August 3 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

"We are currently supporting 28 athletes in five disciplines who will all be training at our state of the art facility at Bellary from May next year. We have talked to all the respective sports federations, Sports Authority of India and the sports ministry who are all supportive of the project," said Jindal.

Jindal reiterated that JSW was in it for long term - 30-40-50 years - and not with any short term focus.

"JSW is in this for a very long term... 30-40-50 years. We will continue to make investments into Indian sports. Hopefully one day our Sports Excellence Programme will contribute to Indian sports," said Jindal.

JSW Sports Private Limited`s CEO and former tennis player Mustafa Ghouse said they had worked over the last 12 months to get the programme up and running.

"We have helped our 12 athletes get ready for the Commonwealth Games. Among them judokas Avtar Singh and Garima Chaudhary are leaving for Glasgow tonight," he said.

The other ten JSW-supported athletes bound for CGW are: Siddhanth Thingalaya (athletics), Sushila Devi, Sunibala Devi (both Judo), Amit Kumar, Bajrang, Pawan Kumar, Babita Kumari, Vinesh, Sakshi Malik and Navjot Kaur (all wrestling).

Jindal, said the initiative by the steel company was part of its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as per the revised Companies Act.

"Our support for sports is part of our CSR as per the new companies act but building infrastructure for sports is not part of it. Our facility would be on par with that which US has in Colorado and Qatar has," he reiterated.

"We will have residential accommodation, schools, hospitals in our facility (of 40 acres)," said Jindal while Ghouse said plans were afoot to rope in 15 top coaches.

Jindal, however, refused to say how much the whole exercise cost the company. "It's quite big," was all he said.

According to Ghouse, hurdler Thingalaya has been training in Los Angeles prior to the CWG while judoka Avtar Singh trained in Georgia for 45 days.

Among others who are under JSW wings are boxer Vikas Kishan, bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championship, and woman wrestler Geeta Phogat, a gold medal winner at the last CWG in Delhi.

Both are nursing injuries currently and are not taking part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

While Vikas said he would now take part in the Incheon Asian Games trials to be held next month, Geeta is out of that multi-discipline event too after tearing ligaments in her right knee during training more than three months ago for which she underwent surgery.

"I got injured while training and underwent knee surgery 15 days later. I am yet to get back on the mat and therefore trying to gain a berth for the Asian Games is out of question. I am targeting the next Olympics (2016 in Rio de Janeiro)," she said.

Vikas got injured under his left eyebrow prior to the last bout during the CWG trials and was ruled out of action.

The break-up of sports persons being supported by JSW: Athletics - 3; Swimming - 1; Boxing - 3; Wrestling - 12; Judo- 9.

JSW also has a I-league football team - Bengaluru FC which won the title last year.