A sport that has its origins way back in the 18th century, provides excellent cardiovascular workout, played by millions around the globe, with a governing body recognized by IOC and yet not part of Olympic Games. Yes! You guessed it right. Squash started becoming popular in the 19th century. We got a chance to interview Mr. Jay Jhaveri, the founder of Sportsfort about his initiatives to promote squash in India.
Can you tell us what prompted you to plan a business in sports with a focus on Squash?
I was always a sports enthusiast. Followed my passion and love for sports. I have been an avid squash player throughout and my concept of creating opportunities and a structured pathway for budding junior players and nurturing them with the precise blend of curriculum and coach ensures a high level of progress and result.
What is your mission as a sports entrepreneur?
Sportsfort is incorporated to empower today’s youth and adults with sporting skills, to create an impact on day to day lives through over all fitness, to increase accessibility to sports by providing the finest infrastructure and lastly – to produce champions. We strive to achieve this through professional training, holistic programs and a well-structured roadmap from amateur to professional levels.
Why does someone need to take up Squash?
To lead a healthier and fitter life style as squash is the healthiest sport, increase the participation of squash in our country, it increases strength & fitness, improves hand-eye coordination, reduces stress, improves cardiovascular fitness.
Your company works on the holistic development. What does that really entail?
At sportsfort, we believe in a complete development of a child. Only playing squash is not our aim, we like to include other activities which will help our trainees in all kinds’ competitions and tournaments physically as well as mentally, we would like to produce champions and make a ‘complete player’Our holistic development program includes Fitness training, Nutrition counselling, Sports psychology, physiotherapy, Injury prevention &Rehabilitation programs, and Physical- Tactical video analysis.
What are the latest technologies in squash? Are you using any of them here in India?
Squash has come a long way in all the aspects of the game, from the courts to the rackets and also the squash ball, and all over the world the courts, rackets and the balls are the same, including India. The latest technology as on 2020, there are devices which are being introduced, which helps records player movement, gather distance and movement patterns, while plans are in place to expand the tracking system to record data such as ball speed and swing speed – metrics which would yield a greater insight into the demands of playing at the top level. Once Interactive Squash is implemented at The Top level through the Professional Squash Association it can then be implemented at all levels.
What sort of problems are you expecting at the initial stage of your plan?
The main problem is that squash is not accessible to anyone and everyone. Squash is only accessible to people with club memberships since squash courts are only available in clubs and now in a few residential complexes. Another problem is that squash is not a popular sport cause of two main reasons, one being it is not an Olympic sport and also there is no television broadcasting. At Sportsfort we want to make squash accessible to all kinds of masses, by building squash courts in multi-sport facilities or standalone squash courts, which has already been done in Bangalore.
What are the basic amenities which you are keen to implement and deliver in Squash?
To deliver and implement anything in squash the basic amenities are required a squash court, a squash coach. We deploy our curriculum in clubs, residential complexes& schools where there is existing infrastructure & we also build our own infrastructure
How old is http://sportsfort.in/ and how big is your team now?
Sportsfort is around 1.5 years old now and we are about 15 of us including all our coaches and employees.
What are the key pillars you think are essential that can develop the sport?
The main key pillars that can develop the sport is Infrastructure, Coaching services and coaches, Tournaments and increase participation in the sport itself. A community development is vital, making deeper connections of squash in india and across the world and major involvement of the government is required.
How many squash courts do you operate now?
Our Squash Coaching Program is currently running in several centers across Mumbai, Bangalore & Hyderabad. Sports Clubs & Sports Centers, Residential Complexes and Schools are the places where we handle our squash operations. We are currently operational in over a dozen centers across the three cities.
We currently have a handful of quality courts in India for Squash, do you think more high-quality infrastructure facilities can lead to more participation amongst the children?
Certainly, high quality infrastructure will increase participation. High quality infrastructure will help in reducing injuries, Like a full glass back court will increase participation In tournaments, will increase viewers and spectators since the game can be viewed from all four sides also such courts will of international standard and many international tournaments can be held for juniors as well as seniors.
What is the future of Squash?
Year by year squash is gaining more popularity all over the world. Squash is currently played by 25 million people across 185 countries. There has been 34% increase in number of people playing squash in India in past two years. There are more and more tournaments been organized every year, and participation for these tournaments have also been increasing. Squash is played by 18 cities and 4 union territories in India. The main aim is, for squash to be a part of the Olympics which will be in the coming years. So, the future of squash is defiantly bright.
Why squash is under paid sports in India and how will you change that?
Squash not being a part of the Olympics, no television broadcasting, and squash is not easily accessible, these are the main few challenges for squash being under paid. Things will change if there is more government involvement, more participation and we at sportsfort encourage more participation build more courts and make it easily accessible not only for club members but also for everyone around.
Parents are not well aware of the sport and its opportunities. Will you be looking to focus on the awareness part of the sport as well?
One of the main reasons to start this company is to make people more and more aware about the sport and increase the participation in squash so focus of awareness will always be there.
What is your plan for the near future?
Sportsfort plan is to make everyone easily accessible to squash by providing are services throughout the country. To produce champions, by organizing national tournaments and provide a platform for all the young budding players to showcase their talent. Also, our plan includes of getting into ‘Sports Tourism’ where we will provide an opportunity for all enthusiastic kids to travel to another country to learn and enhance their skills through professional clubs and coaches.
Sports ventures like Sporthood provides the playing arena for rent as well as provide coaching facilities for kids and corporates. Do you also have plans on similar lines?
At Sportsfort, we already provide coaching facilities for all kinds of age groups. We have also started building our own squash courts in multi sporting facility and standalone squash courts where we provide coaching as well as it is open for everyone to come and play the sport.
Are you planning to get into any other sports also?
Expansion is always a part of Sportsfort, we are already into other sports, football and fencing are the other sports in terms of an academy and training. Organizing and managing marathons are also a part of sportsfort, we have already been associate organizers for a marathon and looking forward to organize more such marathons.