Tuesday, March 29, 2016
“I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”.. Robert F. Kennedy
Well, Anil Kumar did some sorts of that when he returned to India in 2004 after a 7 years of stint in the US with Wipro & Ramco.
India was on its 9%+ GDP growth trajectory, the middle-class was booming. Though not exactly a sports-crazy nation, but increased disposable income, global exposure thanks to satellite TV & changing aspirations found a nation wanting more in sports and thereby, more in sports infrastructure.
Great Sports Infra (GSI) saw an opportunity and moved in with alacrity. In 2004, when India knew only about AstroTurf® (at that time exclusively used for Hockey and needing enormous amount of watering), GSI introduced new-generation artificial grass that didn’t need a single drop of water and was maintenance free! Soon it expanded its Service Offerings by adding synthetic athletic tracks, multi-sports surfaces, inter-locking modular sports flooring and other variants of indoor and outdoor sports facilities to its repertoire.
For the cricket-crazy country that India is, it came up with an innovative solution to enable swift removal of water from the outfield the moment it starts raining, so that the field will be ready to play as soon as it stops raining, saving hundreds of millions in lost revenue & more importantly, ..bringing back smiles on the millions of fan-faces! J
In a period spanning a little over a decade, it achieved many ‘firsts’ to its credit:
· India’s first FIFA certified artificial grass football field (Salt Lake
· India’s first ever artificial turf football field
· India’s largest indoor sports flooring (Govt of Gujrat)
· World’s largest artificial turf rooftop (Govt. of Gujarat- Mahatma Mandir)
· Golf academy, (Hamoni Golf Camp, Gurgaon)
The man behind this spectacular growth story, Mr. Anil Kumar, a first generation entrepreneur with an Engineering and MBA background and later an Executive Development Program from Kellogg, is a dapper, soft-spoken professional with many accolades. He is a regular speaker in various forums on sports and entrepreneurship including FICCI, CII & TiE. He was a national level sportsperson in track & field and Handball, a legacy he rightfully leveraged in the inception and growth of GSI.
With 5,500+ sports & landscaping sites in 7 countries in S. Asia and E. Africa, 8 Million+ sq. ft. of artificial grass and sports surfaces and with a market share of 45%, GSI is poised for an exponential growth and could be joining the big league of Rs. 100 crore+ within a couple of years. It can play a pivotal role in the burgeoning Indian sport ecosystem and thereby nurturing a much-needed sports culture in India! Aligned with its mission and strong sense of corporate social responsibility, I won’t be surprised if in near future GSI adopts few schools/colleges where sports is still considered a luxury!!