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The sporting landscape has changed vastly in the last decade with the rising interest in alternative careers and the shift in individual preference towards a healthier lifestyle, it is interesting to see the job seekers of today look for jobs that allow them to follow their passions. Yet there’s virtual absence of a medium that can effectively help students and aspirants to take sports as a career option in the industry.
Switch2sports has been conceptualized to address the exactly this challenge and transform how opportunities and career in sports is delivered across the country.
Inspired by Indian National football captain Sunil Chhetri’s speech at India Today Conclave 2016, the idea for Switch2sports was born. “An opportunity to make a positive impact to Indian sport and make a living while doing what I am passionate about” – These are some of the key reasons I started Switch2sports,” says Manikandan in an exclusive interaction with Fisto Sports. Switch2sports is something unique in terms of promoting and unveiling other humanly side of sporting persona.
“Sport in this country runs broader and more deeply than the legacy of being a one sport country,” he says. Switch2Sports itself unique as there is hardly any channel focusing sports stars. You can call this a videopedia were you will see the entire history of a player – professional and personal journey.”
“Having been an admirer of the sport for many years, I was taken aback by the lack of opportunities that were present for me to excel. I did some research and realized that there was a big gap in documenting a player’s journey. Not many of us would have been aware of a player’s exciting journey, might know some bits of here and there but not a detailed one. My purpose came from wanting to create a platform that document the life of a sporting starts life journey meticulously,” he added.
Often, it isn’t really that easy to follow your heart. It isn’t that easy to do what you love.
To Manikandan’s credit, he didn’t give up. After several hiccup, he finally kick-started the project in full-fledged from 2018 onwards, and in the meantime, he studied how sports YouTube channel firms in the country had been structured, did background research on players and mapped skillset demand and etc.
L Shakthi (Cameraman), Jai Ganesh (Editor), Sandhiya Jai Ganesh (Production Head)
“As time went by, I slowly ventured into all possible fields as how to make this channel financially viable option to sell but in the longer run we have the option of – events, careers, marketing, the list goes on – and I eventually returned to pursue what really makes me happy. Thankfully with the support of four ladies in my family – My Mom (Nirmaladevi), my wife (Visalakshi), my elder sister (Hemavathi) and my sister in-law (Balambal).
Importantly, I get motivated by two young boys in my family my son and my nephew is also the reason whenever I watch a match they imitate that's when I realised If I only show one sports they only watch that if I show multiple they will try everything. We could see this through and in the process, we have identified certain gaps in the industry that we at Switch2sports believe needs attention. This is where we make that difference.”
Manikandan credits his team for the support, encouragement, and dedication, where most of the members are female. “It has taken a long time to build the credibility of the business. But to be honest – we’ve just come a full circle. My team plays a huge role in executing it, to whom I am very thankful beyond words. “I am taking this as an opportunity to thank my team – my channel head (Visalakshi), Production Head (Sandhiya), All Anchors Kavi Priya, Actress and anchor Swathishta and Sarayu Soundrajan, Digtial and SEO Team Anshika and Sharmila. The real women empowerment is there in my team. And few men are also there including myself, Jai Ganesh (Editor), Shakthi (Camera Man) and Gokul Nath (Sports Photographer).”
Sarayu Sundararajan (Anchor)
Swathishta Krishnan - Actor-cum-anchor
Gokulnath - Photographer
So far, we have shot 12 episodes in our first part of player’s interview that which will be launched in our You Tube channel soon, and for the next 12, we look to focus on – behind every successful sportsperson that we see today, there is a large network of professionals working tirelessly behind the scenes – such as physiotherapist, nutrition, video analyst, sports photographer, videography and etc. Speaking of some of the major hurdles that have held back India from being a respectable sporting nation apart from Cricket, he said, “Kids growing up in India are foretold that success is more likely to be achieved in the field of academics. They drop their passion as a sport due to pursue either engineering, medicine, or CA.
There is so much going on in terms of sports that not too many of us are aware of. That ought to be changed, don’t you think.?" Though it is true that cricket is more popular than other sports, but Manikandan says that other sports are also seeing a new light in the recent times. “It’s not just cricket which is rage among the youth, there are other games emerging at the rapid pace and first and foremost the important is changing the mindset of the audience and the media. If we get these two, most of the other things will be sorted. Cricket will never be a part of our plan at least for the 15 episodes. Even in our interview, there has been no questions about cricket, not even one single question has been asked to the players.”
Sports, which was traditionally considered a hobby especially in India, never been taken seriously as a career option. Manikandan also believes that promoting sports as a career is a positive idea for children from all walks of life. There’s a need for more role models to promote positive values by saying, “In the sporting industry, there are multiple products are being launched but don’t have a particular market. There are influencers who talk about sports product, but not the medium. The sports market is vast, and opportunities are unlimited. The various fields include professional player, sports engineering, sports science, sports marketing, sports coaches, sports sponsorship, sports tourism, sports broadcasting, fan development, event and venue management, sports psychology, physiotherapy, sports PR and the list goes on and on.”
In the longer run Switch2sports also wants to be the sports hub for sporting events and player's marketing, careers and opportunities, where we can have an impact on almost every aspect of everyone’s life and building a sustainable ecosystem for health and fitness, powered by the new generation of talent who choose to explore non-traditional fields that is sports. We should also see this as an opportunity to do what we do well even better.” he added.
So what does Switch2sports want to be when it grows up? Manikandan defines its role primarily in terms of becoming a sports hub for all sports events and player marketing also admits that they have a lot of work to do in this niche. “Slowly but surely – we will venture out to our neighbouring state and become PAN India, though our main focus in the future is and always will be on the benefits that sport can bring to people and to society, built around a simple set of outcomes: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development.
In conclusion, Manikandan says to achieve the feat is challenging in terms of financial investment required to run the business. “We are currently looking for support from the people and sponsorship to make the channel big to reach more players from across India and bring talent to our channel. It is the beginning of an exciting journey, but the transformation will not happen overnight,” he ended.