For Deeksha Sood, a technical lead who has been working with design and engineering company Aricent India for six years, taking part in the company’s annual sports tournament helped her bond with new people. According to the company, which is headquartered in Santa Clara, US, sports help people unwind, stay fit, bust stress, and, most importantly, make new connections. To that end, it organizes Get Sporty, a month-long tournament at multiple locations across its 10 offices in India to make sports integral to the company culture.

“The third season of the intra-company tournament was held in January 2018 and saw over a thousand employees participate in various sports across the country," says Chandra Reddy, Aricent India leader and chief engineering officer. Gurugram-based Sood was the runner-up in the badminton tournament, that culminated in champions from each centre playing against each other. The Bengaluru and Gurugram offices also have outdoor and indoor badminton courts, respectively. She says teammates would take time out of their schedules to help each other practise. “I would especially like to mention my partner Shalini Vishnoi with whom I have developed a beautiful bond, on and off the court. This connect was seen in our game; we could coordinate effortlessly which helped us win," she says.

Vishnoi works as a lead user experience designer, and has been with Aricent for over two years. She says that even though she and Sood worked at the same centre, they hardly ever interacted as they were on different projects. But, ahead of the sporting tournament, the two teamed up to take part in matches every weekend. “In fact, we would train early mornings or late nights on weekdays. This helped us connect with good players, watch their game to learn new tricks and strategies," she says.

In its latest edition, Get Sporty comprised over 400 carrom games, 300 chess games, 250 badminton matches, 190 table tennis matches, 130 cricket matches, 30 volleyball matches, and over 30 kho kho matches. The scale of the event can be attributed to the fact that the company has its largest employee base in India (8,500 of its 10,500 employees are based here).

“Sport helps break monotony and encourages interaction at a human level. Apart from better health and well-being, sporting activities help enhance leadership skills, team spirit, competitiveness," Reddy says.

To promote camaraderie, Get Sporty encourages inter-team participation beyond ranks and functions. “Employees are free to choose their team members and this helps them explore a large talent pool beyond their immediate team," Reddy says.

After a month-long promotion of the event, nominations are invited. This often brings like-minded people together. There is no hierarchy and everyone is free to seek out partners they would feel comfortable with.

Bengaluru-based Chaitanya S.H., who works as a test engineer on a Cisco ODC project, has been with Aricent India for almost a year now. The winner of the badminton tourney, Chaitanya says: “I think it’s a great initiative to build sportsman spirit and keep employees engaged beyond just work. I got to meet some amazing people, from different places and teams, at the event. I bonded well with them and discussed about things beyond the game and work." Chaitanya partnered with Shilpa T.C., a verification engineer, who works with a different team, on a different project. The two had hardly interacted before.

“I am passionate about sports and love participating. Getting this opportunity at Aricent was great. It helps us stay fit and focused at work and beyond. My partner and I had each other’s back throughout the tournament; that resulted in us winning the badminton championship," Shilpa says.

Chaitanya says the sporting month works as a great stress-buster as she gets to take some time out of her hectic work schedule to play. “Besides badminton, I also participated in many other sports this year. We play as a team, cheer for each other, and enjoy each other’s victory. It boosts engagement, aids competition, and increases team spirit," she says.

Game On is a series that looks at companies that take their sporting events seriously, and how it helps build team spirit.

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