Focus on the people: key stakeholders’ perceptions of elite sport in India and its potential for development

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Rationale/Purpose: Despite its best efforts, India is still struggling to succeed in international sport. Consequently, this study aimed to firstly, contribute an empirically driven rich picture of the current sports environment in India and secondly, to explore management factors that might explain India’s elite sport achievements and stagnations. Design/Methodology/Approach: A purposeful sample of 25 key stakeholders (high level athletes, coaches, administrators and government officials) were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and reviewed against factors identified by Green and Oakley (2001) as those contributing to elite success. Findings: Participants revealed that India is definitely doing better on factors such as financial assistance and job security; issues that were always a constant source of concern in the past. Importantly, however, further exploration highlighted that resources invested in Indian sport are not being used effectively and that India may be following an erroneous pathway of prioritizing hardware over liveware (i.e. stadia over people). Practical Implications: The study provides some initial conclusions that managing the available resources differently by prioritizing development of Indian coaches and a coach development system might better facilitate India’s success in sport. Research Contributions: The current study, to the best of our knowledge, represents an important but comparatively unprecedented step towards trying to unwrap the sports field in India, a diverse and vast country.




Khasnis, U., Chapman, P., Toering, T., & Collins, D. (2023). Focus on the people: key stakeholders’ perceptions of elite sport in India and its potential for development. Managing Sport and Leisure, 28(4), 323–343.

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