Chennai sports prospects appeal to brands

Think of Chennai, sports and brands, and chances are you immediately think of Chennai Super Kings, MS Dhoni and India Cements. But the city is quite versatile when it comes to its sporting associations with much more than cricket on its calendar.

Since August, Chennai has had a busy sports schedule, with the 44th Chess Olympiad quickly followed by the National Surfing Championship in Kovalam. Soon the city hosted the Tamil Nadu International Kite Festival.

Now tennis fans have been enthralled with the WTA Chennai Open at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam. Meanwhile, at the Madras International Circuit, the state’s cyclists hit the asphalt for the Tamilnadu Cycling League (TCL).

A view of the center court at the SDAT Tennis Stadium during the WTA Chennai Open 2022 from September 12, 2022 at Nungambakkam in Chennai on September 10, 2022. Photo Srinivasan KV/ THE HINDU

A view of the center court at the SDAT Tennis Stadium during the WTA Chennai Open 2022 from September 12, 2022 at Nungambakkam in Chennai on September 10, 2022. Photo Srinivasan KV/ THE HINDU

Companies have always had sporting associations such as MRF with motorsport and its Pace Foundation and the former Britannia Academy (BAT) for tennis. They are now creating rich new associations.

Take the TT group which is now promoting surfing on a massive scale. As an avid surfer and water game enthusiast, Arun Vasu, Managing Director of TT Group, who is also Chairman of the Surfing Federation of India, says he has always intended to give something back to the community. surf.

Therefore, it made sense for TT Group to get involved in such a project as it saw the potential in these banks of opportunity.

The spark that animates

Speaking of the intention with which TT Group brought surfing games to Kovalam, Vasu says, “It was not just about promoting surfing but also about creating jobs and opportunities. TT Group initially focused on holding surfing games. Soon we were leading it along the ‘Covelong Classic’, a festival featuring food and music hosted by the local fishing community. It eventually became a unique product for our group and it got bigger than expected.

The Covelong Classic attracts thousands of visitors every year

The Covelong Classic attracts thousands of visitors every year

Vasu believes that sometimes for a brand it’s not just about getting the name out there but “it’s also about changing lives”.

“We were creating a kind of revolution in India when we started surfing,” he says. “Initially, we struggled to get other companies for sponsors. But now, over the last couple of years, companies are seeing value in smaller sports beyond cricket,” Vasu adds on a note of hope that TT Group will one day host the World Surfing League.

Always intended to give something back to the surfing community, says TT Group Managing Director Arun Vasu

Always intended to give something back to the surfing community, says TT Group Managing Director Arun Vasu

Small is the new big

If you think India is a cricketing nation, maybe it’s time to rethink. M Sudhakar, the founder of TCL and Anna Nagar Cycles, is convinced that other sports are slowly getting the attention they deserve.

Thanks to being an active cyclist himself, Sudhakar is in contact with many groups of cyclists and wanted to bring them together under one roof. He thus created a plan to start TCL inspired by the Tour De France.

Eight teams representing eight districts of Tamil Nadu participate in the TCL

Eight teams representing eight districts of Tamil Nadu participate in the TCL

Sudhakar explains, “I pitched my idea to other companies. Nippon Paints and RP7 lubricant were the first to join. Reliance’s Rallyz cycle has also partnered with us. Eventually, we got approval from the Cycling Federation of India, the national governing body for cycle racing, and even officials from the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu are involved.

Tamil Nadu Cycling League

Cyclists from across the state participated in the TCL at the Madras International Circuit

TCL held a selection in different cities in the state such as Madurai and Coimbatore. Interestingly, the organizers live-streamed the sport on social media.

“Small-scale sporting events can draw attention to unfamiliar players,” says Sudhakar, “During one of our cycling races, a young teenager from Pudukkottai on a single cycle nearly beat a foreign competitor on a single cycle. top end worth ₹5 lakh. We were all impressed. Imagine how well it could do with great endorsements.

Cash out correctly

When brands get involved in the sport just to gain positive media coverage, the goal is lost, says Ajith Haridas, head mentor at Hatsun Badminton Center, a training center in Thiruthangal in southern TN. “You need to make sure your money is well spent on the right resource. This was the only reason for Hatsun Agro to open this center; produce the best players and participate in international tournaments.

Hatsun badminton center in Thiruthangal, near Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, has eight courts in addition to other training facilities

Hatsun badminton center in Thiruthangal, near Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, has eight courts in addition to other training facilities

Sudhakar believes brands have started to get more involved in sports as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “They want to be associated with something positive. Obviously, if you focus on health, then that’s exciting,” he adds. Besides brands that can bring change in the sports community, Sudhakar says parents and schools should help young people grow.

A cycle of growth

A test competition to assess readiness ahead of the 44th Chess Olympiad was held in Mamallapuram on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (Photo PTI)

A test competition to assess readiness ahead of the 44th Chess Olympiad was held in Mamallapuram on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (Photo PTI)

A major advantage when organizing a sporting event is that several companies benefit from it. During the Chess Olympiad, hotels and resorts across the city saw an increase in room bookings. Similarly, during surf games which have attracted up to 20,000 people, local restaurants set up stalls over the weekend, providing an additional source of income for the fishing community.

“At the end of the day, it’s about bringing a sense of responsibility to the sport,” says Haridas. “Companies and brands follow an appropriate work culture and policy. If you don’t show results, you will be held accountable. So when brands partner with the government, which owns the sports infrastructure, we can show them how well it can be managed and what needs to be done to produce world-class sportspeople.

Published on

September 18, 2022

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