In the movie ‘Chak De India’, coach Shahrukh Khan’s Indian women’s hockey team played against the men’s team to get their sponsorship. Entire nation was moved by this spirited fight. We sat up, took notice, cheered and felt proud of our girls. More than a decade later, a women’s hockey team in real life unlike reel life had no sponsors. Instead of filmi histrionics, they used technology, campaigning for donations on the Internet.

The India Women’s Ice Hockey team were short on sponsorship and struggling to go to the tournament in Bangkok. They took to crowdfunding site Ketto to ask for donations. In the past, crowdfunding has been used in India to fund unconventional technology products, art and music ventures, but this is probably the first instance of a sports team launching such a campaign. More than 3000 Indian citizens came to the fore with donations ranging from as little as Rs. 100 to a few thousands to meet the goal of 3 million. The money funded their visa, tickets, training, equipment and what a return on investment the donors got! The girls won 2 matches, the first ever wins in India’s Ice Hockey history. A mammoth achievement and hopefully a turning point for the sport in India.

Earlier star Indian badminton player and now celebrity coach Gopichand, had to mortgage his family home to set up his academy which later produced Olympic medalists Nehwal and Sindhu. There are several other Indian players from non conventional sports such Dipa and Mary Kom who found it difficult to fund their sport. With glamour sports like cricket always hogging the limelight and the money, is technology driven crowdfunding the future of unconventional sports? We certainly hope that more such campaigns are launched and garner the necessary support from Indians.

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