Backed by a historic campaign at the Asian Games 2022, India's sports sector has undergone a remarkable paradigm shift in 2023, achieving historic milestones and witnessing the flourishing of various sporting disciplines.

With a record-breaking haul of 107 medals, India's talented athletes showcased their excellence across diverse sporting disciplines. Notably, athletics emerged as the standout performer, constituting 20% of the total medals and portraying the nation's dominance.

Punit Balan, Chairman & Managing Director of the Punit Balan Group (PBG), shared insights on India's sporting industry's growth and PBG's role in fostering diverse sports in the country.

“The past year has been a monumental journey for the Indian sporting landscape. Our strategic investments in over nine leagues, both nationally and internationally, have contributed toward creating a thriving and sustainable ecosystem for Olympic, indigenous, and non-Olympic sports in the country. A shining example of this commitment is Indian Tennis Star Rutuja Bhosale, a PBG-supported athlete who clinched a gold medal in mixed doubles tennis at the Asian Games this year. With the Paris Olympics in mind in 2024, our focus is to increase our support for more athletes, offering them the necessary resources and backing to excel internationally,” said Punit Balan.

The Union Budget set the tone for the remarkable journey of the sporting industry this year, as the sports sector received its highest-ever budget allocation, reaching a staggering Rs 3397.32 Cr in the new FY 2023-24 Union Budget, with Khelo India securing a whopping Rs 1045 Cr in funding.

Alongside Khelo India, Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK), India’s first-ever professional Kho-Kho league, also secured Series A funding from UK-based BNP Group, becoming the first sports league in India to secure private equity investment. This funding was a testament to the growing prominence of indigenous sports such as kho kho in the country.

Tenzing Niyogi, CEO and League Commissioner of Ultimate Kho Kho, highlighted this rise of UKK by stating, “The year 2023 was distinguished by historic milestones and remarkable achievements for indigenous sports, with Ultimate Kho Kho spearheading the charge. In our continued pursuit of making Ultimate Kho Kho larger, bolder, and the ultimate source of entertainment for Bharat, Season 2 marked the introduction of the NextGen where 33 exceptionally talented players, aged between 16 and 18, were drafted, reflecting UKK's dedication to identifying and nurturing emerging talent.”

“Another significant accomplishment was the nomination of Nasreen Shaikh, the Indian women's Kho Kho captain, for the prestigious Arjuna Award. This recognition is a substantial boost to women’s Kho Kho and sets the stage for the much-anticipated women’s Ultimate Kho Kho league in the country, which is currently in the works. Looking towards 2024, we aim to build an even more robust structure of Ultimate Kho Kho, driven for the players (both Men’s & Women’s) and inducting new team owners to develop the Kho Kho universe,” added Tenzing Niyogi.

Much like the notable surge in Kho Kho, Kabaddi also experienced remarkable expansion this year. The Yuva Kabaddi Series, India's first-ever year-round sports tournament has played a pivotal role in the development of the sport, particularly at the grassroots level.

“The sports ecosystem in the country has grown by leaps and bounds in 2023, transitioning from a nation of sports spectators towards becoming a truly dedicated sporting nation. Personally, through the strides made in Kabaddi through the Yuva Kabaddi series, we have witnessed a substantial boost at the grassroots level and its positive impact extending to the Pro Kabaddi League," commented Suhail Chandhok, CEO of U Mumba and Co-Founder of Yuva Kabaddi Series.

He added, "Through the Yuva Kabaddi series, we reached over 1000 Kabaddi players in 2023, and our goal is to surpass that number in the upcoming year. We aim to contribute more players to the Pro Kabaddi League and extend our impact to women's Kabaddi across various states, establishing ourselves as a Pan-India sports product."

For a nation to ascend to sporting excellence, the fitness and active participation of its population in sports are imperative. Gamepoint, a prominent sports services provider, has been instrumental in this endeavor by establishing elite sports centers and offering a diverse range of sports events designed to make sports accessible to individuals of all ages.

Shedding light on the achievements of the Indian sports ecosystem in 2023 and how Gamepoint provided the platform to proactively promote sports and cultivate a vibrant sporting ecosystem, Aditya Reddy, Co-Founder & CEO of Gamepoint stated, “In 2023, we experienced the first full year without any effects of Covid. As common people returned to playing sports, there was a renewed interest. In 2023, Gamepoint trained 4000 students, enabled more than 1 lakh people to play sports and conducted 100+ corporate sport events. In 2024, we are looking forward to making an even bigger impact on the participative sports market and expanding Gamepoint from 8 centres in one city to 16 centres in three cities. Also, the target in 2024 will be to increase our revenue share by 50%.”

The sporting achievements of this year have set the stage for a promising 2024 to build a robust sporting industry in India.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)