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Book Review: Go! Transformation of Indian Sports (8/5/2019)
--K. Arumugam
Why do an NGO working on sports bring out a book? The curiosity compelled me to purchase a copy of 'Go! India's Sporting Transformation'.

Eventually, my curiosity got me one of the best sports books published in India in the recent times.

Go! India's Sporting Transformation is compilation of essays by some living sports legends, well known sports writers and specially those who have adopted different professional careers but have amassed expertise on various facets of sports due to their passion.


The 275-page book, handy paperpack, is edited by Nandan Kamath and Aparna Ravichandran. The latter joined GoSports Foundation in its formative years while the former is its Managing Trustee.

GoSports Foundation is celebrating its tenth anniversary and the book is not only to commemorate the milestone but also 'to share with readers the wave of optimism that pervades in their daily work', which obvisouly points to the positive attitude that marks the contemporary sports scenario.

The optimism is reflected in the title of the book itself.

As co-editor Aparna Ravichandran outlined in the introduction, the book is a tribute to the contemporary athletes and others who have acted as authors and actors, who have transformed Indian sports scenario from despair and despondency to what it is today: full of optimism. The book therefore 'commemorate the sprouting of the various seeds of change that had been planted around us.

There is no denying the fact that the book oozes optimism. The positivity that it radiates is the kind of stuff that is needed to weed of out somewhat still existing stereotypes.

What makes the book interesting is not only the excellent content the authors have painstakingly produced but also their professional background. A NITI Ayog executive, a TV Production head, a Wealth Advisor with foreign bank, Children book writer, a advertising and marketing executive...the variety throws delightful insights and new perspectives. So, no surprise the book opens up many a thought process who seek for it.

Sports books normally are bios or event based. Thankfully, we have a rare synthesis of brains in Go!

Interestingly, the editors maintain a balance between sports. Readers therefore get adequate info on progress women sportspersons have made, unique feats of Para Olympians and of course without sidelining cricket. Not only contents, even list of authors show a remarkable gender balance. Seven out of 14 authors are females. While we rejoice the feat of Saina, Sindhu, Kom and alike, we need to reserve some applauds for these writers too.

Unexpectedly, the book is a not a achievement souvenir of sorts one normally expects if it is from the stable of a NGO. There is no overstating of their feat. Go! is a perfect book.

Three sporting legends portray their sporting principles. The trio are Gopichand (Badminton), Abhinav Bindra (Shooting) and Rahul Dravid (Cricket).

There you have badminton maestro Gopichand telling true story of his life, how that extra half an hour hard work can spell wonders, and then India's lone Individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra letting us know how it is difficult to get medals on world stage before going on to explain how a 50 Kg TechnoBody machine and alike helped him improve 0.1 percent of his score!

Then comes the punch. "These things only helped with additional 0.1 in the ultimate score, but as I would later find in Rio, that can be the difference between a medal and nothing".

How true!

His theory of Adaptability, Balance and Hunger is a must read for every aspiring talent.

So also every meesage that Gopichand convey in his essay 'The Extra Half an Hour", a masterpiece. His articulation of kind of coaches for each stage of athletes' development sends a sound message to both public and policy makers.

Not much need to say on this epic essay except that the whole text should straightaway make it to college and higher secondary schools syllabi. Every word of the legend is worth of gold.

Santosh Desai's 'Two Cheers for Brand Sports', Shivani Naik's articulation on India's march towards becoming a multisport nation, Abhijit Kulkarni's precise portrayal of our Badminton rising to champions from also-rans; Neeru Bhatia's earnest attempt to evalute our sports governance issues, and like make interesting read.

'Growth of Sunrise Industry' by Joy Bhattachariya is witty, precise, positive. His encounter with a Govt bureacrat, who suggested two Indian teams for the Jr Football World Cup, and other anectodes are the kind of facts that Indian public should be told. The way he perceives the IPL, and portrays how it changed various facets of sports management in the country, and to sports encompass various related genre of people, is an eye-opener.

Roopa Pai lets us walk through the rise and rise of Indian sports women. Thankfully here, hockey gets its share. Elsew where including the chapter on sports league, hockey is a miss. Its obvious, as hockey despite its early moorings, has not contributed to the present transformation of Indian sports. Present phase is spurred and sustained largely due to the feats of individual sportspersons.

'The book was born out of a desire to document and celebrate the many strides Indian sports had made over the last decade', says the epilogue.

The book has achived the above objective in full measure.

A sports NGO to bring out such a wonderful book is a welcome sign in our sports ecosystem.

This also contribute to the sporting transformation the India is undergoing right now.

A must read for everyone. A worth buy.

Note:The writer is author of many books on hockey, founder of hockey NGO, One Thousand Hockey Legs, and regularly reviews books for various publications including for his site

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