Ali Asgar Nalwala talks to the founder of an analytics-based sports platform to know how modern means can help athletes overcome this difficult phase
Yeragaselvan Kumarasamy, founder of India’s most unique sports digital platform, Run Adam, is trying to redefine the sports ecosystem. The platform is conceived with the capacity to leverage technology to optimise resources, foster the use of analytics in enhancing skills, mobilise funds and promote sporting culture to grassroots.
Excerpts from the interview
What Impact will the cancellation of major tournaments (IPL, etc.) have on the sporting fraternity, domestically as well as internationally?
Personally speaking, IPL is not just about Cricket, but multiple businesses are also growing with it and given the current situation, we need something like IPL to re-boost the economy. Cancellation of such major tournaments is definitely a big hit especially as IPL was scheduled ahead of the World T20 in Australia later this year.
IPL was like the perfect pre-tournament for the entire cricketing world as it helps various boards make crucial decisions in team selection, watch up and coming youngsters perform and make various other important choices.
Switching from IPL, athletes have prepared probably their entire life for the upcoming Olympics and that now being postponed is definitely hard to digest.
It’s going to be hard for each of them to overcome this phase, to plan, mentally prepare and then go out there and execute. Now once everything settles down, they would have to train like never before to come back to their peak performance levels and compete at the highest stage.
The RIO 2016 Olympic Games helped the Brazil achieve record tourism figures in 2016. Over the 12 months, Brazil welcomed 6.6 million foreign tourists, which represented a 4.8% increase from the previous year. In terms of revenue generated by tourism in 2016, the total was US$ 6.2 billion, an increase of 6.2% from the previous year.
Similarly, IPL has been the talk of the town not only for advertisers, sponsors, broadcasters and organisers, but also for every Cricket fan in the country. Estimates suggest close to $1.5 billion is riding on the IPL in terms of advertising, sponsorships and ticket sales which would have a catastrophic impact on the sporting fraternity both domestically and internationally.
Can data-driven performance be further optimised in sports or has it reached its limitation?
Data-driven performance can most certainly be further optimised and hence has definitely not reached its potential yet. For instance, looking at the grassroots level in sports and where it all begins for a sportsperson, one important reason why India’s performance in sports lags is that schools don’t have sport specific coaches and usually only one Physical Education teacher to coach multiple sports.
When you look at sports-related data closely, one can find no single resource that either tracks past or current sportspersons, and there are no simple ways to maintain or access records of sportspersons starting their journey. Data from school games up to district games are not being captured digitally and thus we cannot identify talent early.
Hence, we as a company are working with numerous schools and educational institutions to understand the importance of data and performance metrics to identify and nurture talent at a young age. In this regard, we have associated and appointed sports professionals, other sports vendors to identify and implement performance data wherever possible.
Also, a sportsperson’s journey is often lonely, with little to compare one’s own performance to, so we are working on building a comprehensive sports log so athletes can record their performance data digitally, which can be compared and analysed with fellow professional athletes to improve amongst each other.
What role can technology play for sportspersons to navigate through these tough times?
To be honest, technology can do truly little to help a sportsperson navigate and get through these tough times. It cannot compensate the real training they do in the field where every microsecond counts, and every inch can make a huge difference. All the professional athletes have prepared themselves for various competitions this year and are now sitting at home with no access to training. This is something irreplaceable.
It will be frustrating a lot to young players and coaches to stay indoors due to pandemic. Your message to them
Especially during these days when we all are sitting at home, I can only think of this famous Bob Marley quote “Your home is in your head”. It actually is an opportunity to do a reality check on where we are going wrong and how to better ourselves in every way.
It actually is a great time for athletes to unwind, to reflect and take this opportunity to work on their mental well-being. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for athletes to come back and perform from where they left with close to no training and inadequate fitness.
I suggest using this time wisely and not get distracted, keep hanging on to the basic fitness levels and plan for what’s required when all this is over like reaching out to potential sponsors for nutrition, sports gears. I also request athletes to create their profiles on Run Adam and get noticed by corporates and other sponsors on the platform.
Post regular updates, their workout routine, training videos, achievements, their dreams and so much more so people can see them at their best! Let the nation know about all their sporting needs from sports shoes, nutrition to sportswear. This way, athletes can also make the extra buck through one to one personal training and by attending events and sports workshops at educational institutions once all this is over.
Can Run Adam be that platform for youngsters where they can get in touch with anyone to counsel them? (Mental condition)
Absolutely. There are quite a lot of senior athletes with whom youngsters can get connected with on Run Adam. Likewise, there are various other sports support staff such as nutritionists, fitness instructors, physiotherapists and coaches who can give them valuable advice. Although the above is practically not possible to achieve in person given the situation, we are however working on finding ways through which youngsters can get support and guidance from such sports professionals by making this viable virtually through our online platform.
Please elaborate on your vision and association with MS Dhoni and other athletes
Run Adam’s vision is to connect a sporting talent to all possible resources required to create a genuine impact in their sporting journey and to help them achieve greatness. We visualise Run Adam to become an essential marketplace for every sportsperson to be a part of and provide access to all their needs in the simplest of ways.
Run Adam was conceptualised in 2017. We approached MS Dhoni on the idea upon which he shared a lot his experiences and wanted us to work on certain aspects for the betterment of the platform.
Upon completion, we requested him to be associated with us and he graciously agreed to come on board which till date remains the best thing that’s happened to us. MS Dhoni is not only the face of Run Adam but also remains a key influencer and plays a key part in providing his inputs for the company's growth strategies.
How can social platforms like Run Adam be beneficial for athletes during lockdown period?
We are an online sports platform that brings together and connects various sportspersons, professionals & businesses under a single digital platform. While our primary target is the sportsperson and our mission are to help improve their performance, we connect the entire sports ecosystem to achieve that purpose.
We are bringing the scattered sports industry together into one platform so that they can transact their specific requirements with ease through technology. We currently have over 40,000 sportspersons registered and thousands of others who are connected to this ecosystem.
Apart from athletes, we have coaches, sporting academies, educational institutions, sporting venues, sporting events, teams & clubs, fitness centres, sports associations, and also have potential sponsors registered. This aside, as Run Adam also acts as a social media platform, young and aspiring sportspersons can create their profiles to showcase their achievements, awards, certificates, experience, their workout routines, their goals & dreams, training methodologies etc. to get discovered and identified by the sports & fitness industry especially during this time.