Master Blaster takes business of cricket global

Master Blaster takes business of cricket global
Master Blaster takes business of cricket global

Sachin Tendulkar, well known for his big hits on the cricket pitch, has struck a unique off-field investment in an Australian headquartered firm to provide an edge to Indian sports' brand image. 'India Global Business' caught up with him during the launch in London recently to see what the Little Master has in store for cricket this time. Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar has announced a new innings of his life by joining a team that will create a brand new range of cricketing gear to hit the world markets from October 1. The Master Blaster joined Australia-headquartered Spartan International as an investor and member of the advisory board to provide his unique expertise to enhance the safety of helmets, gloves and leg guards among other sporting gear. “In the second innings of my life, as I call it, post-retirement this is one opportunity where I am not looking at it from a business point of view but it is the passion which has taken the front seat. I want to do something for the next generations, where they are protected,” he explained. Still limping following a recent knee surgery, the 43-year-old joked about his “new walk”, adding: “A few years ago I was on the other side of the fence. Now I am part of Team Spartan, where I am de-termined and motivated to give something back to the sport which has given me everything in life. The safety of any individual is important and that is our prime focus. The journey has just begun for a great partnership.” On a personal note, he pointed to breaking his fingers on a number of occasions during fielding and batting and indicated a brand new idea that he has hit upon for better cricketing gloves.

An icon like him being able to provide his expertise is mindblowing.-Ravi Thakran, chairman of Spartan International
“That is all part and parcel of the game but something I would want to share with Team Spartan would be my experience of 25 years of international cricket and what are the areas where we can continue getting better. I feel equipment is an extension of your body. A cricket bat is an extension of your arm. Gloves is something important - we have had a fantastic idea which will be unveiled soon, it will be unique... something which protects the fingers,” he said. The iconic Indian batsman also made specific reference to the importance of having more “solid hel-mets” to prevent future injuries “keep up our pace and press the pedal as hard as possible to meet all the expectations”. “Today's players and sportsmen are expecting the equipment to get better and there is a lot of com-petition in the field of sports goods manufacturing and lot of innovation. So it is important to be ahead of the competition,” Tendulkar said. Spartan International dates back to 1953 when it was founded in Jalandhar, India, as a football manu-facturer. Today it claims to be an "innovative product developer" across a broad range of sports in-cluding cricket, all football disciplines, netball, basketball and a range of health & fitness products, including shoes and apparel, which are distributed around the world including India. Kunal Sharma, managing director & founder of Spartan Sports, said it was “an unbelievable feeling to have Sachin on board as partner”. “An icon like him being able to provide his expertise is mind-blowing,” added Ravi Thakran, chairman of Spartan International. In January 2016, Spartan also launched the first global Virtual Sports Club called the Spartan Cricket Club, which provides a unique global forum including a wide range of services dedicated to promot-ing cricket among cricket communities and fans around the world. The Spartan Cricket Club boasts some of the world's highest performing cricketers, including M.S. Dhoni, Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Joe Burns and Holly Ferling as its foundation members. Now, Sachin will also join the club to further develop the sport and healthy living around the world. It is clearly more than just a lucrative business deal for him, as he wants to help under-privileged chil-dren across India and the world be able to play cricket and "live their passion". Drawing parallels with his own humble roots growing up in India, he said: “I exactly know how it feels when you don't have enough money in your pocket and you want a particular bat. So it is about ad-dressing the poorest of the children who aspire to play cricket." The former Indian cricket captain and one of the world's most revered batsmen said he wanted to ensure aspiring young cricketers are not held back due to a lack of equipment. “There are lots of under-privileged promising cricketers who end up playing for their states but they don't have proper equipment. I want to go out and help them, provide them proper cricketing gear where they don't have to worry that if they break a bat where would the next one come from,” Tendul-kar said in reference to his broader plans for a new range of cricketing gear. “I want to supply the equipment so that they just have to go out and live their passion. They should be free to just think about scoring runs or taking wickets and giving their best. That is the greatest feeling in the world, when you are out in middle and batting for your team and I want that to happen to as many children as possible. “My career started when I saw the World Cup being lifted by Kapil Dev in 1983, from there on I want-ed to chase my dream and there were gradual steps which I had to take. It wasn't like from day one I had the best of bats in my hand. So I want to address that, as there are children who may not be able to afford a bat. I want to help and sponsor them.” He is also keen to encourage young children to get involved with outdoor sports and stay fit. Saying “when you are healthy, you are able to smile”.
“I see this as an opportunity to give back to not just budding cricketers but also footballers or rugby players and others. “I remember my grandmother telling me, your health is your real wealth... look after your health. Video games only exercises your thumbs. My message is not stop playing video games and play only out-door sports. But there has to be a balance. “I felt in my case when I got out and played as much as I wanted to, it looked after my health and I was able to maintain a certain level of fitness. This applies to everyone, not just sportsmen; fitness plays a huge role in achieving consistency in any profession.”
Soft Power of Sports
Sachin Tendulkar is arguably the first sportsman to be identified with Indian soft power, which was thus far limited
to Bollywood and yoga. Yes, there have been other Indian sportspersons who have, at various times, captured the imagination of the world. Dhyanchand in hockey, Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay and Ashok Amritraj, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza in tennis, Saina Nehwal in badminton, Vishwana-than Anand in chess and Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev in cricket come readily to mind. But very few have defined the games that made them famous. Dhyanchand is widely ac-cepted as the greatest hockey player of all times, but his exploits three quarters of a century ago came when India was still a British dominion. Tendulkar's rise, which coincided with economic liberalisation and the globalisation of Indi-an society, provided Indians with an icon who the world at large accepted as the greatest batsman in the post-War era. This middle class boy from Mumbai proved all his fellow coun-trymen and foreign experts that Indians could, indeed, become the best in the world by dint of hard work, perseverance, sacrifice and, most importantly, self-belief. The US had Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert and Mark Sampras, Australia had the peerless Don Bradman, Brazil Pele and Argentina Diego Maradona. India, by contrast, had only local he-roes but no one the world universally accepted as defining the game and the Indian spirit. Tendulkar filled that void - and emerged as a shining example of Indian soft power. However, India has not been very proactive in capitalising on a vast untapped resource of popular sports personalities in projecting the country's soft power on the global stage. Maybe the Master Blaster's new initiative can be the starting point to look at how India can pitch itself beyond the sheer economics of international ties. Let's take David Beckham as an example. The former England football captain is often a one-man band for British diplomacy and a classic example of how a successful on-field sports star can be used by his government to project a positive image of the UK. He was the star campaigner for the team that won London its bid for the 2012 Olympics and has been at the forefront a series of global causes as the popular voice from Britain. It's time India woke up to the global potential of its home-grown sporting talent.
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