This is a tough career in India. There is lack of infrastructure as well as interest in sports. Sponsors will spend on a musical evening but not a sports event. You need a good team and the support of influential people.
Often, it is a chicken-or-egg situation. If you fix a venue first, you might not get a sponsor. If you get a sponsor, you might not get a venue. Most times, however, I secure a sponsor first. That is the hardest part.
For sponsorship, we target sportsmen who have done well in their careers or businessmen who like to play. They know the value of sports and usually help.
In India, people promise money but don’t always pay. At such times you have to spend from your own pocket. In 1995, we conducted a tournament carrying a total prize money of Rs 2.5 lakh. We were Rs 45,000 short. I contributed Rs 25,000, a few friends pooled in Rs 20,000 and we did the tournament. I love sports, I want my son to have competitions to play in. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that an event takes place.
At the international and professional levels, things can be a bit murky. Arranging female escorts for stars is par for the course. Sometimes, stars even demand luxury rooms for their coaches and entertainment expenses. If an organiser wants his event to become popular, he cannot say no. It is easier to organise a women’s event. They do not have many demands. They certainly do not expect to be provided male escorts.
Stars are shameless. A famous Indian sportsperson was invited to a school in Nanded. The player demanded Rs 7.5 lakh, three business class tickets and two nights’ booking in a suite in Mumbai.
The job has pressures. You get calls from high-ranking government officials. They want concessions for their children. You have to give in.
When you do a good job, players appreciate your effort. Nothing feels better.
(The interviewee has been a sports organiser for over two decades and now owns a sports events firm)
As told to Akshay Sawai