Sculpting cricket champs of tomorrow, the Coaching Beyond way

Over 5 crore children play cricket in India, which means 2 million coaches are needed. But there is a dearth of educated coaches as India has just about 3,500 odd-coaches and there is an urgency to bridge the gap.
Bharat Arun (2nd from right) flanked by coaching staff in Chennai
Bharat Arun (2nd from right) flanked by coaching staff in Chennai

CHENNAI: India’s former cricket coach Ravi Shastri has teamed up with ex-cricketers Bharat Arun and R Sridhar to start a venture that is aimed at transforming the landscape of coaching at the grassroots level in the country.

Coaching Beyond has come into existence after two years of deliberation. “We felt there is a dearth of quality coaching at the grassroots level and also from the immediate state levels. We offer high performance athletes, who might not have played for the country, a pathway to achieve their goals,” says Arun, the former bowling coach of the Indian cricket team.

The marquee background of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) be it Ravi Shastri, Chairman of NCA when Bharat headed the bowling wing, alongside head of education Kinjal Suratwala and Sridhar, who helmed fielding, is what the entity seeks to leverage. “We provide performance-driven cricket coaching, training, and education to individuals, teams, and coaches from the grassroots to advanced levels,” he says, adding this endeavour is a “great opportunity to percolate the methodologies used by professional cricketers to grassroots” in an affordable manner.

In Hyderabad, where the journey began, it is associated with St Johns, a 33-year coaching institute. Coaching Beyond has 8 turf wickets, 4 matting wickets, 4 astro turfs, indoor 4-lanes and a sports science unit. “Fitness is an integral part of the game and we have full-fledged gyms and physios to support this,” says Arun, who comes with over two decades of coaching experience himself.

Over 5 crore children play cricket in India, which means 2 million coaches are needed. But there is a dearth of educated coaches as India has just about 3,500 odd-coaches and there is an urgency to bridge the gap.

“You have to study to be a coach. Your experience as a player can help you to be a better coach but does not qualify you to be one,” says Arun, highlighting the need to pursue education in this sphere to become an effective coach. Bharat and others have themselves undergone the coach education programme of different levels from the BCCI, he sought to point out.

“At a time only 30 coaches can be educated, whereas we receive over 700 applications through our website,” he says.

Since it is not possible to churn out the figures on-site, Coaching Beyond decided to go online. “We have designed an online course, shot all the videos and the entire foundational course will be for 40 hours. Ravi Shastri has spoken about the batting part, whereas I have done the bowling part and Sridhar takes care of fielding while Suratwala handles the physiological and psychological parts,” he says.

Typically, to be a certified cricket coach from the ICC would call for an investment of a lakh, whereas Coaching Beyond plans to introduce the online certified coaching programmes for under Rs 10,000. “The volumes in this country are huge and there is enough scope for us. Our focus is on long term athletic development programmes for boys enrolled with us full-time. Associated member countries are also reaching out to us, as they would like to benefit out of our programmes.

“We have conducted five level One programmes, through which 150 coaches from across the country have been educated. Of this, 10-15 per cent are women coaches,” he says. From Hyderabad, Coaching Beyond decided to set shop in Chennai, where it inaugurated a facility in Lalaji Omega Memorial International School, which has provided the space. “In Chennai, we have 28 turf wickets, 4 matting and 3 astro turfs with a four-lane indoor facility, a full-functional gym and a sports science unit,” he says, adding this was perhaps one of the largest infra available to budding cricketers from a private player. As many as 150 of the school children will benefit from the programme offered by Coaching Beyond.

“We would like to grow horizontally and may even expand with more centres in Chennai and rest of the country,” says Bharat, as he points to the supply demand mismatch in the about 1,500 academies in Chennai, with 5-6 coaches each. So far, a sum of Rs 3.2 crore each has been invested in Hyderabad and Chennai facilities.

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