It’s ironical that though sports in India has a way of galvanising an entire nation, very few people want their children to pursue it as a career option. Be it the recent Asian Games or the ongoing cricket World Cup, Indians are spurred into a frenzy by match wins and medal count, but adopting it as a profession is rarely a motivation. A single-minded focus on academics is served as an ultimatum to children, and any mention of pursuing sports is actively discouraged.
The parents’ attitude is understandable since sports, apart from cricket, has hardly ever offered sufficient financial remuneration or stability to be considered a profession. Even if it does, the career span may be too short to provide a lifetime of financial support. Of late, however, several sports other than cricket have come into the limelight, be it tennis, badminton, chess or athletic events. The government, too, has come up with initiatives and financial support to promote players in various sporting events. So if your children are keen to opt for sports as a career, here are some things to keep in mind.
First, consider it only if your child shows keen interest and flair in the sport, and is willing to put in the discipline and hard work it entails. Don’t initiate it as an experiment till the time the child is ready for higher education. The child may lose focus and interest in both. Be prepared and willing to accept that attention to a sport as a full-time profession will result in some form of educational neglect, especially if the child is doing well in his sport. While some form of educational qualification and grounding is a good idea, do not push him to excel in both.
Next, be prepared for financial investment in the sport from an early age. As opposed to a large corpus required for the child’s higher education at about 17-18 years of age, you will need to start spending right from the beginning of his training. The expenses will include funds for sporting equipment and gear, nutritional needs, health check-ups and medical expenses, professional training and coaching, sports camps, tournaments and frequent travelling. These expenses will continue till the time the child starts winning tournaments and earning monetary awards. So your financial planning will need to take care of staggered expenses over a longer time frame. Also keep in mind that this will be in addition to the education expenses for the child, at least in the early stages of schooling.
Third, if you are serious about the professional elevation of your child in a sporting event, at least one of the parents will need to put their careers on hold or, at the very least, take time out from their professional and work commitments. As you accompany the child for his training and tournaments, you will need to take leave of absence or modify your work arrangements. When the child starts earning, you will also need to manage his savings and investments till the time he becomes an adult. This may be key, especially for sports with limited career spans and earning potential. While it may a good idea to teach him the basics of saving and investing, it would be best to hire a good financial planner so that the money can be put to work to last longer and take care of dips in career.
Finally, it’s important to remember that every child may not achieve professional excellence. In such a case, inform the child about alternative career options in sports, be it coaching, training, sports writing or journalism for him to pursue.IF YOU HAVE A WEALTH WHINE, WRITE TO US…
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Disclaimer: The advice in this column is not from a licensed healthcare professional and should not be construed as psychological counselling, therapy or medical advice. ET Wealth and the writer will not be responsible for the outcome of the suggestions made in the column.