In our efforts to promote volunteerism we have been writing about voluntary initiatives by individuals such as Birds of Hope and Jazbaa. These initiatives have been started by people like you and me and we hope that writing about them will provide inspiration and motivation to many to go beyond the question “What can I do?”
In the same spirit, today, we write about Go Sports Foundation (GSF)– a unique initiative that empowers young Indian sports talent by providing them with vital professional and financial support. While we come across a lot of organisations working on health, education, livelihood etc, sports is one area we rarely find NGOs. SaiSudha Sugavanam, GSF’s Programme Director, talks about the foundation, its work and how they engage with volunteers.
The Foundation – it’s mission, values and programs
The founders of GSF have been actively associated with sport at various levels and they felt that this shaped them as individuals that they are today. They wanted to take that positivity and appreciation and give back to Indian sport. They strongly believe that sport has the ability to strengthen the moral fiber of our nation and its citizens and that was the genesis of Go Sports Foundation.
The Foundation sees sport as a powerful tool to positively impact individuals, communities and the national consciousness, and aims to give every individual and corporate entity, the platform to participate in the life of India‘s best young sportspersons.
Our primary focus remains on establishing a supportive ecosystem in which junior athletes can thrive and grow.
Through our flagship programme PACE Scholarships, we have been able to systematically identify talented junior athletes from various Olympic and Paralympic disciplines including swimming, badminton, table tennis and tennis, among others. We are also launching knowledge-building programmes in a number of sporting disciplines aimed at better equipping junior coaches and increasing the quantity and quality of coaches in the ecosystem.
The team – Volunteer engagement and management
While the core operations of the foundation are run by a team of four, we are supported by a number of volunteers. Most of our experts (psychologists, fitness experts, and sports doctors) offer their services to our athletes as pro-bono.
We also reach out to college graduates through social media, word of mouth and letters to colleges for internships. Internship projects may include research (we recently did a research on sporting ecosystem of athletes in India), documentation, content creation, administrative support, identifying and reaching out to athletes and sports enthusiasts to support our mission. Many of our volunteers also help in raising funds and awareness by participating in events such as marathons.
At any given time we work with a small group of volunteers/ interns so that we can better manage and support them. While there is no formal volunteer management policy, we do recognise our supporters. For example we offer certificates to interns and recognise our experts by mentioning them on our website.
The impact – so far…
The main objective at GSF has always been to support talented junior athletes, and empower them in the formative stages of their careers. From 4 athletes in 2008, to 21 athletes in 2012, the Foundation has come a long way to reach the stage it is today. Out of the 21, 3 athletes represented India at the London Olympics and Paralympics.
We are extremely happy with the progress we have made as an organisation, and gratified to see the difference the Foundation’s support has made to the lives of these young athletes.
Here’s a short video “It begins with a dream” by Go Sports Foundation featuring their athletes, the foundation’s work and how you can be part of this dream.
Sports play an important role in youth development. Are you part of or do you know of more initiatives that focus on sports as a development tool? Do share with us so that we can write about them here.