MEET MS. DEEPTHI BOPAIAH- EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR- GO SPORTS FOUNDATION
GoSports Foundation- the recipient of the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar - National Award for Sports Encouragement.
Ms. Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director- GoSports Foundation believes, "If you love what you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life”; and “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
She says, Excellence in sports can only be achieved by building a sustainable athlete-centric sporting ecosystem. It is my mission to achieve this through our programmes and initiatives.
She also believes that excellence has a ripple effect and can inspire social change and be used as a tool to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and the state of our nation.
We came across the journey of GoSports Foundation along with its vision and mission and challenges faced during the setup of this start-up in an exclusive interview of Ms. Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director- GoSports Foundation with CLIQTAX:
CT: Kindly tell us something about yourself & how did you discover passion to run GoSports Foundation?
DB: I was born and brought up in Bangalore but my family hails from Coorg, Karnataka. For Kodavas, a term used to refer to the community members in Coorg, being part of the services and playing sport are the two most revered professions.
Right from my childhood days, I was always exposed to the culture of playing sports and staying outdoors. I kept playing different types of sports right through my school and college days, and I have represented the state of Karnataka in basketball and tennis.
After graduating from the Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, in 2007, I worked for HSBC as a wealth adviser and trainer. After a 6 year tenure at HSBC, I decided to quit my job to pursue my passion for sport and have been with GoSports Foundation since 2012.
During my stint at HSBC, I very distinctly remember this one particular evening where we had gone out with the entire team to celebrate a wonderful sales month.
The 2012 Olympic Games were being broadcasted, and everyone in my table just kept complaining about how we as Indians don’t have it in us to excel at the biggest stage of sport and win medals.
Being a former sportsperson, these statements really bothered me. It was impossible for me to believe that we couldn’t excel in sports when we are doing well in every other domain.
This inspired me to give up my lucrative career and join GoSports Foundation with the conviction that India had plenty of sporting talent and Indian athletes needed the right kind of support system to win in international competitions.
CT: Please share with us something about your NGO, GoSports Foundation?
DB: GoSports Foundation is a national award-winning non-profit organisation working towards the development of some of India's talented emerging and elite athletes, competing across Olympic and Paralympic disciplines through our athlete scholarships and knowledge building programmes.
We specialise in the field of Athlete Management through which we ensure that the right support is given to deserving athletes, and further enabling them to inspire the next generation to achieve larger aspirations.
In August 2019, we were the recipient of the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar - National Award for Sports Encouragement from the President of India for “Identification and nurturing of budding/young talent”.
I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce our latest initiative, called Play for India. It is an initiative started with the objective to help professionals in the sports industry who are facing a tough time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim is to provide monetary and non-monetary support to coaches, trainers, ground staff, security guards, and other relevant stakeholders who are part of the sports ecosystem.
For more information, please visit: https://playfor.in/
CT: When this foundation started and how did the journey begin to start it?
DB: Nandan Kamath, renowned Sports Lawyer and a former state-level cricket player for Karnataka, Principal Lawyer LawNK, Managing Trustee, GoSports Foundation, Hakimuddin Habibulla, middle distance swimmer who represented India in 2000 Summer Olympics, Managing Director, India, and South Asia at Myrtha Pools India Pvt. Ltd., and Late Mr. Joseph Ollapally, an all-rounder in the true sense of the term and graduate of Harvard University, founded GoSports as a private company in 2007.
The objective was to realize the potential of high-quality sporting talent in India. The intention was to identify and nurture athletes who could bring about a shift in the culture and attitude of Indians towards sports.
GoSports Foundation was launched in 2008 as a not-for-profit organisation as the model for a private company was not viable at that time.
Currently, GoSports uses CSR and Non-CSR funds from various partners to help support 126 athletes through their programmes.
The foundation has former Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid, and All England Badminton Champion Pullela Gopichand on the Board of Advisors, and the former physiotherapist of the Indian Cricket Team John Gloster as the Head of Sports Science.
The current list of trustees at the foundation includes Mr. Nandan Kamath, Mr. Abhishek Laxminarayan, and Mr. Thomas Ollapally.
To know more about the team at GoSports and our partners, click here.
CT: Where did you get your inspiration from to start this NGO?
DB: The foundation was started by Mr. Nandan Kamath, Mr. Hakimuddin Habibulla, and Late Mr. Joseph Ollapally. I joined the foundation in 2012 and have been in the role of Executive Director since 2016.
CT: What is the vision and key focus of the NGO?
DB: Our Vision: We have directed our projects and initiatives towards Enabling Sports Excellence
Our key focus is to use sports excellence as a vehicle for social change and a tool to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and the state of our nation.
CT: Please tell us about some of your best trainees/players?
DB: Few of them are as follows:
Dipa Karmakar, Gymnastics - Rio 2016 - 4th Place in Vault Finals, Khel Ratna Awardee 2016
Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton - Former World No. 1 in 2018 (Srikanth joined us when he was ranked 238), Rio 2016 – Quarterfinalist, Arjuna Awardee 2015
Deepa Malik, Shotput – Current President, Paralympic Committee of India, Rio 2016 - Paralympic Silver Medalist, Arjuna Awardee 2012
Devendra Jhajharia, Javelin - 2004 & 2016 - Paralympic Gold Medalist, Khel Ratna Awardee 2017
Sathiyan Gnanasekharan, Table Tennis - first Indian ever to be ranked in top 25 in the world
Bhavani Devi, Fencing - First Indian Fencer to finish in the top 16 at the 2019 World Championships
CT: Why did you choose to train others instead of yourself joining sports? What is the definition of excellence in your word?
DB: Although I have represented my State in Basketball and Tennis, I identify myself as a failed athlete who went down the conventional path of doing an MBA and having a successful career in a multinational bank.
The journey of being a successful athlete requires lots of hard work, determination, and perseverance. It is not viable for everyone to pursue.
Having failed at my attempt to become an athlete, I have now used my passion for sport to follow a career that helps other athletes achieve their sporting goals.
Excellence in sports can only be achieved by building a sustainable athlete-centric sporting ecosystem. It is my mission to achieve this through our programmes and initiatives.
I will also be pursuing the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship Programme 2021, at the University of Oxford to understand the policies that brought about a change in the sports ecosystem in the UK since the 2012 Olympics and explore the possibilities of implementing the same in India.
I believe that excellence has a ripple effect and can inspire social change and be used as a tool to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and the state of our nation.
CT: Do you believe it is easy to build a career in sports in India?
DB: I am a firm believer that one should always pursue what they love. Having said that, most things that bring us joy are often the most difficult to achieve, I would say it is somewhat difficult to have a career in sport because of the challenges associated but from my personal experience, it is something worth attempting to do.
As Nelson Mandela famously said, Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire and unite people in a way that little else does. A sportsperson has incredible potential to influence change and become a role model for the community.
I believe it is an extremely important and fulfilling profession to have.
CT: You have been doing amazing work. Please share a piece of advice for those who are inspired by you.
DB: I really believe in and follow these two quotes:
“If you love what you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life” - Harvey Mackay; and
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
They really define the work we do at GoSports.
CT: At last, a few words you want to say about our CLIQTAX and your experience about it?
DB: It is wonderful to see a platform that seeks to connect professionals from all domains and is passionate about sharing the success stories to inspire their readers. I would like to thank Team CLIQTAX for this opportunity and hope to connect with likeminded individuals who are passionate about making a positive social impact.
CLIQTAX extends heartiest wishes to Ms. Deepthi Bopaiah & GoSports Team for her journey as a mentor and entrepreneur. Kudos to her for such an amazing interview.