Interview with Level Up Sports COO Roopa Krishnamurthy

Level Up Sports is a premier Badminton academy with an aim to make a difference in the sports ecosystem. Their mission and core values drive their culture, their decisions and are the foundations of the services that they provide. Each decision is measured against standards such as -Discipline, Strategy, Perseverance, Sportsmanship, Teamwork and Quality. At Level Up, the team constantly strives for excellence and their goal is to find the right blend of sophistication and simplicity in all their coaching programs. 

Ms Roopa Krishnamurthy, COO of Level Up Sports is a charismatic, bold and passionate women who loves challenges and strives to make all the operations process oriented. The journey so far from working in an IT sector to dedicating her time and effort to sports has been tough and required a lot of hard work and time. Her dream is to turn the dreams of children who aspire to become professional badminton players into a reality.

In the interview below, the readers will get to know all about Level Up Sports and how Ms Roopa Krishnamurthy is changing lives, turning dreams into reality with her team.

Q. Who is the founder of Level Up Sports?

A. “Prashanth Reddy – A computer science engineer; passionate technologist. Co-founded Telco cell – a telecom software consulting company acquired by Ericsson in 2013; co-founded comedy wire @ INSEAD in 2014, raised 5m USD, exited in 2018, co-owner of Bengaluru Raptors PBL Team, Co-founded Level Up Sports in 2017 with Arvind, a former International Badminton Player, two times National Champion, winner of German Grand Prix Gold, National Selector and coach of Bengaluru Raptors”.

Q. What was the inspiration behind name the academy as Level Up Sports?

A. “It wasn’t an easy call to come up with the name for the academy. It was important for us to understand the word that defines us and also connects the Athletes. After a lot of brainstorming we thought Level Up can set that bar for us to keep rising high and for the Athletes to understand that they always have something to look forward to and keep levelling up their skills to achieve their goals”.

Q.  What is the mission and vision of the academy?

A. “Vision is to Provide a world class service in an inclusive environment that promotes mental and physical health and social well-being in society through sports and our Mission is to promote and teach badminton in a positive environment while inculcating discipline, commitment, and integrity both in and out of the court”.

Q. What are some of the past achievements of your academy?

A. “We have produced 10 National Ranking Athletes, 20 State Ranking Athletes at an elite level and also 15 State Ranking athletes at a pro-elite level”.

Q. Who are some of your partners?

A. “Our associations are with Li-Ning, Bengaluru Raptors, Real Badminton, Pep-Up and Brackit”. 

Q. How regularly do you host matches or tournaments?

A. “We have hosted lot of corporate tournaments in our academy but off late we have started organising our own tournaments to encourage kids and adults to know their game and have fun. We would love to have some unique concepts in the tournaments that we would like to conduct so that it covers wider range of players and also help our kids to have unique experiences that can help them learn better”.

Q. What would be the three reasons that makes Level Up badminton academy distinct from other academies?

A. “Firstly, we as a company believe in Transparency and Open communication. This helps us build relationship both with parents and kids to understand their goals and help them in levelling up their skills. Secondly, we believe that the journey is as important as the end results and hence we focus on moulding the kids to become a holistic individual who has discipline, commitment and integrity. In short, we connect mind with body to perform better in all aspects of life. Thirdly, Innovation is the Key – We keep coming up with new initiatives in training the kids to make them fall in love with the game and enjoy what they do”.

Q. What is that one bit of advice that you want to give to an aspiring badminton player?

A. “Don’t Give Up – Hard work, Perseverance and Patience can take a person a very long way to achieve his/ her goal and that requires not to give up no matter how many times you fail because that’s where your strength lies so yeah that’s one bit of advice that I would like to give”.

Q. Do you offer demo or trial classes before joining? 

A. “We conduct Badminton workshops on a regular basis for the complete beginners to introduce the game. We also have trial classes for kids to try the game for a week before they join us. This helps them to figure out about their interests or manage if any other events they have and parents can figure out ways and timings that suits them and reduce their hassle also. We believe that a week is a good number of days that both kids and parents get to decide and look into those aspects and then accordingly decide which batch they should put their kids into”.

Q. What is the learning environment provided to the students?

A. “At Level up, our focus is teaching kids to manage what they can control and ignore what they can’t. Since the journey is long, they need to believe that they can make it through. We encourage and motivate them to set smaller milestones for their growth which builds in them confidence as they keep crossing it. We spend time talking to kids to understand their perspectives and help them overcome the hurdles. We also have introduced a reward system to push them to achieve that extra mile”.

Q. Do you have scholarships for students of your academy and what does it promise for the students?

A. “Yes, we do have scholarship program for our students – The Gifted Athlete Program. This is a financial scholarship program of up to 1 lakh for U13 and above kids who are willing to go that extra mile and give in the commitment to Level Up their skills. As part of the scholarship we provide: international quality shuttles for multifeed sessions and practise sessions, best in class racquets, high quality badminton apparel for training and matches, badminton shoes and also the badminton kit. Our goal is to help them realize their full potential”.

Q. What are the criteria to attain this scholarship for a student?

A. “Firstly, all selected Athletes have to train in Level Up affiliated academies. Secondly they have to maintain the Karnataka Ranking 1-4 or All India Ranking 1-16 to be eligible for the financial scholarship. The Scholarships are given out to special cases even if the athlete doesn’t match the criteria and this is solely decided by the management and the Gifted Athlete Program coaches panel. All the athletes are subjected to performance review every 6 months and scholarship terms may be amended based on the results of the review”. 

Q. Is there any rigid attendance system that ensures students attend classes diligently?

A. “We have both Online and Offline attendance management system. All kids have access cards to enter the academy and at the end of session coaches also take the physical attendance. We also send messages to parents if any kid has not attended the classes for more than 2 todays without prior approval to check the reason for the absence”. 

Q. Is rescheduling possible if a child happens to miss out on a practise session?

A. “All kids are allowed to compensate their missed classes anytime during their tenure. Parents can call our front desk to schedule their compensation classes. We check the slot availability, their levels and put them to the right batches and keep the coaches informed. This helps us to track their classes as well”.

Q. What is the feedback structure?

A. “Our team periodically schedule meetings with the parents during which the Head coach discusses the performance of kids. During this meeting parent understand the learning’s, areas of improvement and what the focus is for the kid. Parents are open to bring up any piece of advice, concern or suggestion that is related to the performance of the child to the Head Coach. Also, Arvind is available to meet the parents for any of their concerns during the weekdays”.

Q. How do you assess if a student is eligible for further coaching sessions, is there any way to test the students?

A. “We have 3 groups of kids – Beginners, Intermediate and Elite. All kids have milestones to track their progress. For both Intermediate and Elite batch, tournament results are one criterion to understand the performance and the gaps based on which Arvind advises what’s best to do. For beginners our coaches track their learning’s on a daily basis, and we set up meetings with parents periodically to track their growth and advise them on next steps”.

Interview by Shreya Thomas

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