Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Using the Internet to promote non-cricketing sports in India

Thanks to the upcoming India-Australia Test Series, I am reminded of one of my long-cherished aspirations (dating back to Jan '04) i.e. to start a portal called 281notout.com - which would promote non-cricketing sports in India. While I did make a small start in 2004, I never pursued it too well. I still hope I kick off 281* some day.

Thought I'd share the idea on this blog and hence this post.

The 281* concept

  • 281notout.com would be an online community of non-cricketing sports fans in India (would rather think of it now as a social network).
  • When anyone registers on the site, they are probed as to which sport (apart from cricket) would they like to see developing in India.
  • Let's say the user chooses Archery. The user is then requested to make a small contribution towards that sport from his monthly paycheck - as per his/her convenience.
  • Once the site has a sizeable community and fund for a particular sport, this money would be used to take up a project that would help the sports' cause in the country. It could be something as small as providing for free training facilities for an Indian athlete who has shown potential in that sport.
  • The chosen project would be monitored by the contributing group.
  • When the site would gain momentum, a lot of corporate participation and endorsements could be sought for such an initiative. Given the cause, I assume there would be quite a few interested. I think Indian cricket players and Bollywood stars too would like to be associated with this.
  • Over time, projects funded by 281* would manifest themselves in results.
Why 281*?
  • The name 281 not out is dedicated to the historic 281-run knock played by V V S Laxman in Kolkata against Steve Waugh's formidable Australian team. (India were following on in the match and ended up winning it.)
  • Laxman's innings of 281 represented the aspirations of millions of Indians - to emerge from a rut and come out trumps.
  • While Laxman lost his wicket at 281, 281 not out is symbolic of an undying spirit to fight and emerge victorious despite the near zero support that other sports receive in India.
A Humble Start for 281* - Sponsorship for an Indian Muay Thai (Kick-boxing) Fighter
  • Sometime in Feb/Mar 2004 I had discussed the 281* concept with a friend of mine (Hari Joshi) in Bangalore during one of our late-night meet-ups and about a week later he got me to implement the idea.
  • Hari's friends, Nitesh Pillai, was one of the 18 Muay Thai fighters chosen nationwide to represent India in the forthcoming World Muay Thai Championship, 2004 from April 7-14 in Chiangmai, Thailand. Unfortunately, the task of finding sponsorship for the fighters was left to each of the fighters. Consequently, with just a month to go before the championship, fighters like Nitesh had to devote their time towards gathering sponsorship rather than focusing on practice.
  • Nitesh had quit his job as a sub-editor of a magazine in his pursuit of being a Muay Thai World Champion and now when he was closer to his dream, he was looking to gather a sponsorship sum of Rs. 65,000 to fund his participation in the championship.
  • That's when I decided to action 281*. I registered the domain name, 281notout.com, and set up a small site with a brief note about what I had set out to achieve and detailed the first initiative i.e. sponsoring Nitesh's participation to the World Muay Thai Championship. Also, I shot out a mailer to my IT-BHU and IIM-L alumni groups with the same details.
  • Within a week I had gathered enough contributions to sponsor Nitesh. While he did not win the championship, he was able to represent the country and give his dream a shot.
However, as it turned out, that was the end of 281*. Since I was just starting off my own creative agency, I put all further plans for 281* on the back-burner despite my personal belief that it could have taken off.

Almost 4 years have passed by since then. The Internet is surely more powerful now than then and this may be a good time to revive the concept.

An interesting piece of news on WATBlog: Vijay Mallya is looking to start a social networking site for Formula 1 fans in India. This initiative is aimed at promoting the sport in the country given that his F1 team, Force India, would be participating in the 2008 Championship.

8 comments:

Avnish said...

Nimish, its an awesome initiative. Forget getting sponsors and accolades, many a creditable achievement goes totally unnoticed in this country.

I consider myself a sports nut but even then I got to know about Anup Sridhar's feat of reaching the quarters of the world Badminton championships a week after the event. His achievement is similar to someone reaching the quarters at Wimbledon.

Iam sure there are enough people in this country who care for other sports and would be willing to take up the cause also. Lets also try to disseminate more information about accomplishments in other sports. People have to know first.

Do you have a website for 281*? Iam sure we can get enough content. The sportspersons themselves would be more than willing to help out.

Lets get going on this. The idea should not back on the back-burner

Nimish V Adani said...

Avnish, thanks for the encouragement. I'll catch up with you soon and discuss 281* in greater detail. Let's do it!

Mario R. Nagathota said...

Good initiative Nimish.... Wish you good luck...

Nimish V Adani said...

Thanks a ton Mario.

Joe said...

I can get you a "free"lance News provider every sports minus cricket!:)

Abhishek Shah said...

hey nimesh thts a gr8 idea specially considering its social relevance.

sad that its been on backburner....thts wht happens when on campus we plan so many things....but worklife just eats up your time and energy and your priorities change !

i used to be online 24/7....and now i just dont get time to even blog.

please startup the concept and would love to contribute to it

Nimish V Adani said...

@Abhishek,

Welcome to the real world... You just got to do what you got to do. In most cases, ideas thought up during your student life are not backed by a strong business/revenue model.

Ash said...

i sure hope it works, my best wishes are with you.