Submitted by International Olympic Committee
IOC Young Leader Rishav Bhowmik knows first-hand that finding your way into sport in India is not straightforward. Through his project “SportXALL”, launched with the support of the IOC Young Leaders Programme, he is hoping to make it easier for young people to find their strengths and get them into the sports and clubs that best suit their skill sets. Here, the rifle shooter talks about his new programme and how the upcoming IOC Session in Mumbai, India, shows the growing importance of sport in India.
Inspired by Indian legends such as Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and Joydeep Karmakar, an Olympian who grew up in the same city, Rishav joined his local shooting club only in 2018 at 22 years old. He quickly became hooked to the sport and has qualified for the last three national championships in rifle shooting.
Because his path to practising sport was an unconventional one, Rishav wants to make it easier for children to have regular access to sport in India. It is this idea and his passion for sport that led him to apply to participate in the IOC Young Leaders Programme – an initiative that provides budding social entrepreneurs with mentorship, learning opportunities and seed-funding to launch projects that leverage the power of sport to make a positive difference in their communities.
Through his work with the programme, Rishav developed the “SportXAll” project, giving young people in India the chance to train and connect with a sports club that suits their passion and specific skill set.
According to UNICEF, India is home to the largest adolescent population in the world (253 million), with one in five people aged between 10 and 19. Meanwhile, the “Sport for development in India” report shows that less than one per cent of those aged 35 and under have access to organised sport.
With this in mind, and with the support of the IOC Young Leaders Programme, Rishav founded SportsXALL to give children in India, and specifically in his hometown of Howrah, Kolkata, the opportunity to not only take part in sports, but also go on and become part of a club.
“There are a lot of children who want to play sports, but they become daily wage earners like their parents, stuck in a generational loop,” Rishav said. “They might have access to basic education, but they don’t have access to a better future, and they end up in the same situation as their parents.”
“I’m trying to get these kids into sport and create a change, giving them a chance for a better future in and out of sport, teaching them crucial life skills and values while offering them new opportunities.”
The programme starts with a camp where children go through some basic physical exercises, while also learning about the Olympic values and different sports.
“We try to put the kids in sports that suit their natural skills,” he said. “If someone has good leg strength, they might want to try running, or someone with good shoulder strength might try discus or javelin.”
Sport in India
The growth of sport in India is supported by NGOs such as SportxALL, which give young people in the country more opportunities to exercise, foster community and lead healthier lives.
In 2022, Rishav attended the newly launched Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) in India, which aims to integrate the Olympism-themed curriculum into the school education system in the state of Odisha. OVEP aims to help children become active, healthy and responsible citizens by providing a practical set of resources, designed by the IOC, that introduces young people to the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.
As a further mark of how quickly sport is taking hold in India, in a few days Mumbai is hosting the 141st IOC Session. “I feel it is a brilliant step forward and really shows the IOC’s trust in India,” he said. “The IOC Session in Mumbai is a big opportunity to show the world that we are perhaps ready to host even more events.”
IOC Young Leaders Programme contributing to Olympism 365 days a year
Launched in 2016, the IOC Young Leaders Programme empowers young people to leverage the power of sport to make a positive difference in their communities, and therefore contributes to the Olympism365 strategy aimed at strengthening the role of sport as an important enabler of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in direct response to the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5.
So far, with the support of the IOC, these inspiring young people have delivered over 140 sport-led projects in communities across the globe, promoting education and livelihoods, equality and inclusion, health, peace building and sustainability, directly benefitting more than 30,000 people.
Learn more about the IOC Young Leaders Programme and the Olympism365 strategy.
Worldwide Olympic Partner Panasonic’s continued support
The IOC Young Leaders Programme has been supported by Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner Panasonic since 2017, and this will continue through to 2024. Panasonic, as the programme’s founding partner, is committed to supporting the IOC Young Leaders through various initiatives, for example providing its creative and technological expertise, along with its network of influencers and ambassadors, to inspire the Young Leaders and equip them with the skills and tools they need to enhance their projects.
Find out more about Panasonic’s support for the programme and sign up for the “IOC Young Leaders in Action” newsletter to get the latest updates.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a not-for-profit independent international organisation that is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family, from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Sports Federations (IFs), the athletes and the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) to the Worldwide Olympic Partners, broadcast partners and United Nations (UN) agencies, and shepherds success through a wide range of programmes and projects. On this basis, it ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values.
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