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Enabling game-changing greatness with technology The nation, synonymous with its entrepreneurial spirit is bringing its insight into the sports industry which screams massive potential.

By Prince Kariappa

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Technology is proving to be a vital part of sporting culture and is rapidly evolving. Any sport, be it team-based or individual, has evolved from simple game plans and logic to various metrics such as analytics and performance-based data. Numbers are the name of the game and we often see staff behind the players on-field, often engulfed in front of their screens trying to formulate game plans and strategies using numbers.

Technology is also being used heavily behind the scenes, with performance coaches individually tracking each player during training and the game as well. The staff behind the teams can identify key metrics from players' performance and then can devise different recovery methods and even devise bespoke dietary charts for each individual.

Guiding the grassroots

India is still being described as 'developing' both in terms of economy and sport.

The nation has a strong grip over cricket and as it stands, dominates the space with all the metrics that one would usually associate with an influential sporting nation; strong grassroots, consistent top ranking, and good governance.

This has often sparked debates about the country not dedicating resources toward any other sport or it might as well be that India is just so good at cricket, and not so much at other sports. This comes after a seemingly strong presence in Hockey, individual sports, and even football but back in the ages. The nation is often compared to China, which seems to have unlocked the formula to leverage its population and infrastructure to dominate the global sport, as is regularly demonstrated during the Summer Olympics.

The efforts, however, continue as India, with almost 1.5 billion in population continues to unearth talent and dedicate resources. As it stands, finance has become the most crucial aspect. The nation, synonymous with its entrepreneurial spirit is bringing its insight into the sports industry which screams massive potential.

Mustafa Ghouse, Founder and General Partner at Centre Court Capital, a specialized VC Fund for sports tech and gaming, opines that technology is going to be pivotal in bettering the sporting situation we have in the country. While spatial computing and augmented reality (AR) are enhancing broadcasting quality and viewership, virtual reality is helping transform athlete training by offering realistic and simulated environments.

Within the realm of sports tech, funding is proving to be the powerful catalyst for developing top-level technology like advanced wearables, sophisticated analytics platforms, and AI-powered training tools.

"Funding would enable the creation of world-class training facilities, specialized equipment, and data analysis tools that assist in elevating athlete performance. These resources empower athletes at all levels to train smarter. Funding also enables sports and fitness tech startups to innovate further and personalize their products specifically for the Indian market," said Ghouse.

As far as the business is concerned, the growth in sports presents an unparalleled opportunity for startups and investors alike to create integrated solutions that resonate with large consumer bases, and drive revenue growth, suggests Ghouse.

Player performances aren't just results of skill and fitness anymore. Numbers are playing an increasingly influential role as analysts are one of the top commodities for any sports team. Player performance data is at the helm of it all and Stupa Sports Analytics, a sports technology company providing a comprehensive suite of solutions for advanced analytics including player performance data and sports digitization among others is making a case for increased usage of tech in sports.

Unlocking the potential

Stupa recently raised INR 280 million in a 'Pre-Series A' funding round led by Centre Court Capital and PeerCapital. The company aims to use the fund to fuel its talent acquisition, global expansion, and product enhancement initiatives.

Megha Gambhir, Co-founder and CEO of Stupa Sports Analytics shared, "We envision a future where cutting-edge sports technology empowers athletes, federations, and fans alike with data-driven insights and digitally augmented experiences. Centre Court Capital and PeerCapital's backing propels us closer towards our vision of transforming sports through innovative technology."

The company is also proudly the flag bearer of the 'Make in India' initiative as the startup has successfully supported more than 15 international federations.

Technology that enhances sporting ability, as great as it sounds, however, has not been accessible to all. The nascent nature of the sector shows that affordability is a major factor in implementing good stuff at the basic grassroots level.

As Sudeep Kulkarni, Founder and CEO of Game Theory, a sports tech startup based in Bengaluru says, "As we trickle down to grassroots sports, especially in India, there's little capacity for grassroots academies to spend such amounts of money towards technology. Things however are getting better. Gradually, with awareness towards sports, the income and hence the capital available for these academies to make investments in technology is growing. There's hope and progress."

The company last raised $2 million in Pre-Series A funding from Rainmatter, a start-up accelerator fund backed by Zerodha, Indian pro Rohan Bopanna, WEH Ventures, Prequate Advisory, and angel investors, including Balakrishna Adiga.

In a sport-frenzy country backed by passionate fans and tech continues to grow, it only suggests that the current climate is keeping the stakeholders interested. Coupled with the potential that the country shows simply in terms of manpower and talent, it is no surprise that significant funds are waiting to be used, but for the right type of innovation at the right time.

Prince Kariappa

Features Content Writer

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