The Don Bosco High School in Mumbai’s Matunga neighbourhood, known for producing stars such as former cricketer Ravi Shastri, is taking schoolyard games to another level—professional sports management.
The school has asked sports management company PDM Sports for a proposal on ways to nationally sell a basketball tournament, featuring the country’s top men and women’s teams. Don Bosco has been organizing the event for two years and received sponsorship from companies such as Deutsche Bank and United Phosphorus Ltd.
This year, the event, called the Savio Cup Don Bosco All India Basketball Tournament, has an impressive budget of Rs50 lakh. And the school could end up spending up to Rs10 lakh to publicize the tournament.
Principal Father Crispino D’Souza said he wants national media coverage for the event this year, including live telecast on sports channels such as ESPN—hence the negotiations with PDM Sports, a division of media and entertainment major Percept D’Mark Pvt. Ltd.
On Wednesday, PDM Sports submitted a proposal with two options; exact details were not available, but the company’s chief operating officer Roland Landers said he has advised against approaching Doordarshan, which had telecast clips of the semi-finals and final last year. “Let’s look at private sports channels such as Zee Sports,” he advised.
D’Souza said he now plans to ask star alumnus Shastri to approach ESPN.
Landers is also looking at youth channels such as MTV, and other available media platforms—mobile, FM radio, the Internet, apart from the regular mediums such as billboards, to create a buzz.
Though the initiative is unique in its concept—schools are not generally known to tie up with sports management companies in this country—Don Bosco institutions across the country have always been synonymous with fostering a sporting culture among its students.
In Don Bosco Kolkata, for instance, professional coaches have been recruited to identify nascent talent and groom them right from middle school.
Helping these coaches is the Dominic Savio Sports and Games Club, comprising student-athletes, and named after an Italian boy-saint who died in 1857 at the age of 15.
In Mumbai, D’Souza says he saw “national-level potential” in a local basketball tournament that Savio Club—affiliated to the school and also named after St Dominic Savio—had started 35 years ago, but which fizzled out in the 1980s.
So, in 2005, he joined hands with members of the club to organize the Savio Cup. The entire sponsorship was organized by club members.
“The first year, there were limitations in major sponsors coming in,” recalls M. Venkatesh, chief financial officer at pipe manufacturer PSL Ltd and a club member. “But then United Phosphorus came in, others joined, and we managed to raise the Rs15-20 lakh we had budgeted,” he said.
The sport’s apex administrative body, the Basketball Federation of India, helped by arranging for the top teams such as Services and Railways to participate, and inviting international referees.
In 2006, the budget was raised to Rs35 lakh, and for this year’s Savio Cup, to be held during 18-25 November, it’s Rs50 lakh. Total prize money has been raised from Rs2 lakh to Rs3 lakh.
Last year, it had a balance of Rs15 lakh, part of which is being spent on building a Rs25 lakh auditorium. The existing court will be re-surfaced and some time soon, Venkatesh hopes, the school will give Mumbai its first indoor basketball court.