ive-time Olympian Shiva Keshavan was left in a quandary when he couldn't afford a sled to take part in the 2014 Winter Olympics held at Sochi. But the luge racer turned to crowdfunding and reportedly managed to raise Rs 9.1 lakhs via ketto.org.
Crowdfunding is the process of generating finance through small contributions made by a large number of people over the internet. Although, crowdfunding is still at a nascent stage in India, the trend is catching up. Many promising Indian athletes are following in Keshavan's footsteps. Asia's top shot-putter Inderjeet Singh, sprinter Dutee Chand and racewalker Khushbir Singh are a few athletes who use crowdfunding to meet their training requirements.
"Crowdfunding is nothing new. If any person and organisation needs help, they ask either an investor or seek help from people they know. But now, due to the internet, things are changing. Anyone can start a crowdfunding campaign, and people all over the world can contribute towards it," explains Apurva Jaiswal, founder of Indiaforsports.com, India's first athletes-only crowdfunding platform. India for Sports currently runs seven crowdfunding campaigns and has raised Rs 3.5 lakhs so far.
Prior to the 2014 Asian Games, shot putter Inderjeet Singh, was able to to generate funds to finance his mental training sessions through crodfunding . "The counselling sessions helped me keep calm despite the problems I was facing," he says. Earlier, Inderjeet had complained of feeling an overpowering mental stress while making his throws. He says he was in a very positive mindset during the Asian Games where he finished with a bronze medal.
Hrishikesh Shinde, a drilling engineer, who regularly contributes towards various crowdfunding campaigns, feels unhappy seeing the sorry state of several Indian athletes. "I generally get to know about funding campaigns through the social media. I believe sportspersons require a lot of money to train and maintain their fitness. I will continue to donate money to such ventures. I do it because I feel the athletes deserve it," says Shinde.
A sports crowdfunding campaign generally comes with a compelling story. It sheds light on the background of the athlete, their achievements and requirements. There are three models of crowdfunding: donation, lending and investment model. Athletes use the first, while startups and business ventures prefer to go for the lending and investment model where the contributors have an incentive.
Jaiswal believes the future of sports crowdfunding in India is very bright and more athletes will join the bandwagon. "Crowdfunding is going to grow immensely in India. It is already very popular in Europe. In India, only the top athletes get funds from the government, but what about the upcoming athletes? The government is not able to pay attention to their individual needs that is one of the reasons why we are going to see more athletes start crowdfunding campaigns," says Jaiswal.