In the Indian academic system, sports education has never been treated on par with other subjects and is viewed more as a distraction. True, most schools have some sort of physical education classes that hardly touch the core of any sport as they focus more on developing fitness among children. What has been lacking in our educational institutions, especially schools, is a proper sports education programme which not only teaches the children all about sports, but also helps them develop skills in their chosen games and gets them to a level where they can aspire to take up sports as a career option.
Taking this matter to heart and plunging ahead with an innovative solution to set right this lacuna is TENVIC Sports, a sports education and promotion company, co-founded by two outstanding sportsmen of the country — legendary cricketer and former Indian captain and the newly named Indian team coach Anil Kumble, and former international table tennis player Vasanth Bharadwaj. The acronym TENVIC stands for To Ensure Victory.
The two sportsmen, with a dedicated band of handpicked professionals, devised a path-breaking concept in 2013 which fully integrates sports education with the formal academic curriculum. TENVIC’S sports education programme seamlessly fits into the timetable of all students from Class I to XII. It takes over the mandatory Physical Education (PE) class syllabus through selection of two or three sports from a bouquet of seven games — cricket, table tennis, badminton, basketball, chess, football and tennis. The PE classes’ calendar is divided into two or three parts, dedicated to the chosen sports. The students are introduced to the chosen sports with theory classes and audio visual presentations, after which they are taught rules and basic skills combined with ample on-field and on-court exposure. A periodic assessment of their progress with grades is presented in a report card along with other academic subjects. The PE classes are conducted by competent and trained coaches.
Fixed programme All TENVIC sports classes are conducted on the basis of manuals and a fixed programme, which are prepared by experts in each sports discipline. There are interactive video sessions through an online academy management system that help students and coaches to monitor their progress and correct the errors.
It took Anil Kumble and Vasanth Bharadwaj a couple of painstaking years to develop the TENVIC sports education programme. “It was worth the effort,” says Vasanth Bharadwaj. “Anil (Kumble) and I felt that to build a proper sports pyramid, the country needs to have a well spread out strong base, which was lacking at the grassroots. Where do we find the grassroots? In schools. What we found, even in our younger days, is that there was always an inclination to play but we lacked proper access and a structured learning of sports. We decided to provide children access to sports, build a structure that teaches them sports and trains them in a structured and professional manner with a team of trained coaches. Even to be a coach, one needs to be professionally certified. To do so, we introduced the TENVIC coach certification programme and created a pool of trained professionals to run our sports education programme. Therefore, there is a career path defined for them as well. As you might have seen in our country, it is the former sportsmen who often turn coaches and pass on their knowledge to their trainees.”
What makes the TENVIC sports education programme unique are the manuals and cutting-edge technology that are used for training students, says Vasanth. All the manuals and curriculum programme in each sport were designed by world class experts. “Guenther Huber, who is credited with the development scheme of the World Badminton Federation, spent three months with us and designed the badminton curriculum. Other valuable contributions for our manuals have come from badminton maestro Prakash Padukone, former Indian table tennis coach Max Constantine, table tennis star Sharath Kamal and cricket legend Anil Kumble, among others,” says Vasanth.
Video lessons TENVIC went a step further by converting the manuals into video lessons. “We have also developed our own software for providing a slow motion re-play of the field training. Our trainees and coaches can watch this. Suppose a child is taught a cover drive, he can watch how a professional plays the shot, and, on a split screen, see for himself his own stroke.
This helps the coaches in pointing out the errors and correcting them. The videos are hosted on a cloud server and each student is given a password for our interactive video training. All these ingredients, in a nutshell, are the USP of our sports education programme“, adds Vasanth.
Another key aspect of the programme is the focus on the safety of children. According to Ravikumar Srinivasan, vice-president, TENVIC, all coaches who are certified and trained by TENVIC undergo police verification. Also, there is a ‘No Touch’ policy in place.
“We have made sure that no trainer can touch or hold a child while training, as part of our efforts to ensure a safe and secure environment for children,” says Ravikumar.
Looking beyond providing sports education, what TENVIC plans to give is a finishing school experience for handpicked talented children, where they are trained in major sports academies. “Wherever such a thing doesn’t exist, we plan to build one ourselves,” says Vasanth.
TENVIC’s concept seems to have caught on in a big way in the country. “As of now, we have 45,000 school students who are undergoing the TENVIC sports integrated programme. In Karnataka, it was KLE Education Society, based in Belgavi, which joined as our first partner in the sports education scheme. It has started yielding results as children in our school programmes are performing exceedingly well in inter-school competitions, and a few of them have been playing at State and national levels. In the coming years, we are hoping to produce more talent,” says Ravikumar.
Concurring with Ravikumar’s views, Vasanth says, “We are looking at a scenario, where we can bring at least 5,00,000 kids under our programme in the next three years. That is a huge enough pool to unearth talent from schools.”