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For Sportz Village, the challenge is to shift online — George James

For Sportz Village, the challenge is to shift online — George James

Praketh Reddy

Published: 14 May 2020 1:54 PM GMT

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and implementation of the nation-wide lockdown, sports businesses both small and medium have been taking the toll with almost every kind of sport and physical activities outside have been shelved. They now have been forced to change their operations amid this period. We, at The Bridge, try to feature the stories of such sports businesses in India, who have been working in the grassroots and facilitating sporting activities now are trying to adapt to the situation and making plans to ensure the smooth running of the business. The Mumbai-based company, Sportz Village, formerly known as formerly-known as KOOH Sports, is an Academy arm having impacted over 200,000 kids in the last 5 years in India and UAE with an aspiration to be one of the largest youth sports platforms in the world.

SPORTZ VILLAGE Academies delivers grassroots programmes to initiate interest in sports, nurtures talent through sports development centres and promotes talent with best in class sports properties.

In a conversation, with The Bridge, about the impact of Covid-19, George James, the Senior Marketing Manager of Sportz Village says, ‘'The Lockdown has indeed affected the daily business operations and we are no different, we have been hit by the pandemic and we are looking at other ways to survive, we started something called 'Play at home', which basically tries and gets kids to be active at home itself, and they can use our home page to their benefit. Also here the trainer directly interacts with kids when they are home and we are getting some good trainers to keep the kids engaged. The kids can also monitor and see what they and their friends are doing and they can keep a track daily."

Cricket coaching centre at Sportz Village Cricket coaching centre at Sportz Village

However, the concern remains for the company is to shift from the physical to the online space. James adds, ‘'The major problem now is unfortunately that as an academy we need to shift everything online, which prevents us from doing some group activities together with the kids and give a bigger value addition, we as a company hope the lockdown is over soon so that the normal schedule of the academies can resume."

The key to shifting into online space is focussing more on fitness and health activities. "We have been using a lot of measures and also we had to innovate and teach the coaches the new form of teaching when it comes to online. Right now we also focus and give classes which do not require any equipment as not every kid has it with them at home, so we need to do more of fitness and health activities. So we are focusing on activities which can be done efficiently from home and at the same time smoothly," says James

Another major USP of Sportz Village is that it also takes its students to sports tours around the world, and gives them an opportunity to mingle, interact and experience and gain exposure. ‘'At the moment we are forced to stop the tours due to the lockdown, and even once it is lifted there is no guarantee on the international travel restrictions so at the moment we do not see this happening in the near future which can enable us to do it.’'

Basketball caoching centre at Sportz Village Basketball caoching centre at Sportz Village

Talking about expansion plans James Says, ‘' Right now we do not have any plans to expand, we want to stick to our main product and then once we come back to a normal routine, we can then look into it. But for the moment we do not see expansion as a way forward, we majorly have a lot of academies in the West part of India, and we will look to come to the southern part once we grow.’'

Talking on the management and technical role, Sportz Village has former Indian Physiotherapist, John Gloster in their Management team. Elaborating on his contribution James says, ‘'John is in charge of all the online activities and also the fitness and nutrition part of the online classes, he is also in charge of the activities and he represents us on online webinars and also speaks to parents on the children's performances and diet plan."

Lastly, Sportz Village is conducting a lot of webinars to engage the customer channel and also to spread importance on how important it is to eat healthily and stay fit during the lockdown, he concludes by saying that the only thing sports companies can do right now is to try and get their services online and get as much income and exposure out of it, especially in such short notice.

Also read: Road to Recovery | Sporthood will be a safe place after lockdown — CEO Rahul Thomas

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