School sports gets a professional touch3 min read . Updated: 10 Mar 2013, 10:38 PM IST
Physical education companies are increasingly sought by private schools
“I get to learn ‘cool’ soccer techniques," said Aggarwal, who idolises Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. His school has a tie-up with a physical education and sports training company Kooh Sports Pvt. Ltd (KSPL) which helps him get professional soccer training.
Mumbai-based KSPL was founded by Susir Kumar, chairman, and Prabhu Srinivasan, chief executive officer, in 2010 with Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd (HDFC) and India’s largest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) holding a 15% stake each.
“KSPL has a partnership with KID-FIT, a US-based sports foundation, which is structured to teach children fundamental sport movement skills and gross motor skills progressively," said Gaurav Mashruwala, the company’s chief marketing officer. He said KSPL charges ₹ 120-175 per month per child.
“Providing complete support in not just the skill coaching front but also in various other domains like mind coaching and attitudinal development, starting at a young age all the way to professional sportspersons is our vision," said Anil Kumble.
Tenvic, which provides training to around 1,000 children in 30 schools in Bangalore, Gurgaon and elsewhere, charges ₹ 250-350 per month per student. It also provides specialized programmes separately for students interested in specific sports.
“Today, middle class parents are ready to pay more as they see sports as part of education. Smaller schools especially need such physical education training partners to attract good talent," said Amitabh Jhingan, partner and national leader, education, at Ernst & Young India.
More such companies will emerge as demand rises, he said. Some parents support the trend.
“I am spending more than ₹ 30,000 per annum for my daughter’s education. Though this new training costs me more, I am happy with the interest my daughter displays towards outdoor activities," said Vinod Venugopal, whose daughter is in class II in a Mumbai-based private school.
However, some schools are wary about the value such companies bring, given the expense.
“We depend on in-house trainers as we cannot afford the rates quoted by these companies," said Priya Krishnan, head, school system, VBHC Education Service (VES), a subsidiary of Value and Budget Housing Corporation Pvt. Ltd.
Physical education “helps the students to socialize and makes them emotionally strong," said Govardhan Wankhede, professor and chairperson of Centre for Studies in Sociology of Education at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
“It is time that the focus of sports in schools moved from mere competition among the best, to include all children with a special focus on children in primary school," said Saumil Majmudar, co-founder and chief executive of Bangalore-based EduSports Pvt. Ltd. The company conducted a survey of more than 100 schools and 49,000 children in November, which showed that most were not fit enough to compete in sports due to low anaerobic (lack of oxygen or air) capacity, apart from lower strength and poor flexibility.
EduSports was started in 2008 with an investment of less than $2 million from angel investor Seedfund. The company said it provides physical education to 175, 000 children in 270 schools across 70 cities in India and three in Saudi Arabia. It charges ₹ 100-150 per child per month and is targeting a revenue of ₹ 100 crore in the next four years, according to Majumdar.
LeapStart, owned by Fitkids Education and Training Pvt. Ltd, is another Bangalore-based firm focused on providing specialized physical education curriculum based on its own research.
Dev Roy, a former managing director of Barclays Capital, founded LeapStart in January 2010.
“Today we have about 150 schools and cater to 100,000 students and our schools are located across 14 cities in India. We charge ₹ 150-180 per student depending on the region," said Roy.
Students have become more determined on the playing field, said Deepa Menon, principal of Srinidhi Public School, Bangalore. Her school charges ₹ 19,000 per child per annum for pre-nursery training and has had a tie-up with EduSports since 2010.