Solving the Rubik’s cube of Indian sport: exploring impactful factors and alternative ways to facilitate success
The heavy investment of nations in high-performance sport seems justified by the belief that high-performance sporting success can lead to national pride and mass participation. This would then provide a larger pool of talent for selection of future successful athletes, whilst also promoting participation and greater physical activity for others. Although India too seems to follow a similar philosophy, and has consistently been investing in sport, its performance at international sport, especially the Olympic Games has not been impressive. This is particularly distressing when considered against the country’s large population. Given that India sees worth in investing in high-performance sport, potential ways to facilitate sporting success need to be explored. Consequently, this thesis adopted a pragmatic approach to explore sport development in India. Specifically, potential factors contributing to the limited success were explored and potential alternatives to facilitate India’s ongoing efforts of achieving sporting success on the international stage were proposed. The first step involved exploring Indian sport from a policy viewpoint to gain deeper knowledge about potential reasons that might be limiting the impact of numerous policies implemented so far. A long-standing issue with policy implementation and a potential lack of policy learning were concluded as two of the main reasons impacting sporting success. A potential for India to adopt bottom-up and top-down approaches to policy implementation and policy transfer were proposed as alternative ways for India to overcome the policy issues. There was, however, a need to gather a rich picture of the current scenario of Indian sport. Therefore, perceptions of high-level key stakeholders were explored through a semi structured interview to gain in-depth knowledge about Indian sport. Reflecting the challenges of size and scope, and the consequent need to triangulate and generalise the conclusions, further exploration was completed through a quantitative survey. Significant findings from these empirically driven studies included: i) a lack of sporting culture; ii) a need to develop quality Indian coaches and a coaching system; and iii) a need to increase use and knowledge of sport science support. Of these conclusions, coach development was prioritised for three main reasons, its significance in the wider literature, the fact that India lacked a coaching system and Indian coaches being criticised for their relatively poor knowledge (including misconceptions and limited use of sport sciences). Therefore, an India-specific model aimed at developing quality Indian coaches and a coaching system was proposed. Given the policy implementation issues, however, the feasibility of the model was tested through another empirically driven study. Finally, a revised model for coach development was offered that might contribute to India’s efforts of succeeding at international sports.