Can Sports Coach be a lucrative career?

Recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award for excellence in Athletics, Adille holds the rare distinction of winning the National Championship for 11 consecutive times in the 100 meters sprint. He also represented India in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. As the Group Vice President of Sai Service, he started The Asian Age Newspaper in Bombay, TV & Entertainment Guide and a television serial for DD 1. He is a Director in Mid-Day Multimedia Limited, Clear Channel Communications (I) Pvt. Ltd, AIM Associates Private Limited, Mid-Day Outdoor Network Private Limited, SSI Media India Pvt. Ltd. and Bombay Marathon Private Ltd.

My school St. Mary's, Mazagaon, laid a lot of emphasis on sports. There were inter-house sports competitions as well as inter class competitions. In fact St. Mary's was the inter school champions in a variety of sports at that time. Naturally, in an environment like this, I participated in all kinds of sports.

There were some trials being held for the forthcoming inter school athletic meet and I was asked if I wanted to participate in the relay. I didn't think twice about it, gave it a try and ended up beating the inter school champion! So it was more by fluke that I realised that I was good at track and field events.

I never really thought of sports as a profession. I had made up my mind that I would do something else. You must realise that in athletics a sports person's life is till the age of 30. You cannot expect to make enough money to support yourself for the rest of your life. In fact in those days we had to pay in order to participate in competitions! I was always good at studies and so I continued my education along with my training.

It was a great feeling when I became the national champion. But most people don't realise that once you reach the top there is a lot of pressure on you to stay on top. You need to keep on running faster and creating new records. I kept on doing that and in the process became the national champion in the 100 meters 11 times and seven times in the 200 meters.

It was very amusing when I found out that I had won the Arjuna Award. I had broken my ankle and was sitting at home musing about my future. My television was not working. So I was oblivious to the fact that I had won the award. All of a sudden, a friend called me up and said, "Are bawa, tu Arjuna award jeet gaya!" He had seen it on the news. That's how I found out about it.

In 1983, I went to Germany and trained at the Deutsche SportSchule, one of the premier sports training facilities in the world. I trained there with sporting greats such as Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses and Florence Griffith Joyner. I realised there that my training was in fact counterproductive to running sprints. I learnt a lot from there and when I came back I passed on that experience to others. It was from then onwards that I began coaching seriously.

A coach plays a very important role in the development of an athlete. An athlete has the talent and the coach has to harness that potential to the maximum. But a coach does not train you only on the field. A good coach should be living the life of the athlete. He should take care of his physical, mental and personal problems as well.

India fails to produce world-class champions because there are a lot of things that go into making a champion. You need proper training by experienced coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, etc. You also need proper equipments. Then you need to look into things such as diet and the mental strength of the athlete. And these do not produce results in short period. Then there are areas such as sports science, sports medicine and Biomechanics. These are very expensive. But India has started doing well. Our record in the Asian games and other regional meets has increased considerably. The future is definitely bright.

Most people think that all coaches are frauds. They also think that the coach who charges the most is the best. By the time athletes realise this it is too late.

We need a lot of corporate support to improve the quality of sports in this country. We need corporations to believe in our sportspersons. The government should build infrastructure. And by that I don't mean huge stadiums. We need things like synthetic tracks, artificial surfaces, special equipments and the best coaches in the world.

People can make a career out of sports. But I don't say that sports people have to restrict themselves to just sports to earn their bread and butter. A sportsperson is a very intelligent creature. They are used to making split second decisions, which make the difference between winning and losing. They are good at strategising and quick decision making. I think if there are special programmes for sportsmen then their potential can be tapped by corporate in their management arms.

My advice to youngsters is to be a sportsman you need a combination of talent, hard work, dedication, etc. These are just the ingredients. You will have to come up with the winning formula. But remember it's not practice that makes perfect, it is perfect practice that makes you perfect.