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IIMA students get leadership lessons from former hockey champ Viren Rasquinha

Former Indian hockey team captain Viren Rasquinha, as part of the HTSAS 2.0 series,talks about the hard work and long hours that athletes have to put in to be successful

education Updated: Nov 29, 2017 18:17 IST
IIM,Indian Institute of Management,IIMA
Former captain of the Indian hockey team Viren Rasquinha talks to students at IIM Ahmedabad as part of the How to Start a Startup (HTSAS) 2.0 series.(Sourced)

For students of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), it was inspiring. “It takes just 6 grams of gold to lift a nation,” Viren Rasquinha, Arjuna awardee, former captain of the Indian hockey team and a member of the 2004 Indian contingent to the Athens Olympics told them. His talk at the management institute was part of the How to Start a Startup (HTSAS) 2.0 series.

The HTSAS series was launched in 2016 to impart the experiences and learnings of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors to the entire country. Rasquinha is currently the CEO of the Olympic Gold Quest - the brainchild of sportsmen Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi to help Indian athletes win gold medals in the Olympics.

With around 145 athletes currently being trained in six sporting disciplines, the organisation has nurtured five of the last eight medal winners of India in the Olympics, including the star of the 2016 Rio Olympics – badminton silver-medallist PV Sindhu.

Of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Rasquinha recalled watching Leander Paes take the podium with the tricolour rising in the background. That was the moment when he was inspired to captain the Indian team one day and win a medal in the Olympics, the former hockey star said.

Recounting two encounters in his career against the formidable Australian team, one of them being the crunch group stage match in the 2004 Athens games, Rasquinha admitted to always finding the Indians’ training severely lacking in comparison to that of his Australian counterparts. This feeling lasted and eventually was the reason why he joined the Olympic Gold Quest in 2009 after his MBA at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

Citing the examples of Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, Rasquinha highlighted the training each of them received and the different timelines at which the Olympic Gold Quest worked with the three athletes. Working with Mary Kom from 2009 for the 2012 Olympics with a focused effort to help her jump up two weight categories and secure the bronze medal in the 2012 Games, Rasquinha said he found her to be one of the most inspirational persons he had met. While Nehwal was also in the organisation’s focus from 2009 with a three-year roadmap, the Olympic Gold Quest has been closely working with PV Sindhu with a seven to eight year timeline from the time she was around 14 years old. The most important quality in all three, he said, was that “They will run through a brick wall every single day if required. The hard work and long hours put in, which the world is not aware of, is what makes these athletes successful.”

Talking about how the sport played a major role in shaping him into the person he was today, Rasquinha spoke about the three significant lessons he learnt through sports: His one-year stint with the Stuttgart Kickers in the German Bundesliga taught him the importance of the right team environment for talent to flourish.

About the contrasting training styles in India and Australia , Rasquinha said it motivated him to give his best at all times, be it at practice or at team meetings or in the matches itself. In a team environment, every single member of the team had a unique and essential role to play, he added. Joking that although goal scorers in sports like hockey and football get most the attention, he emphasised the value of every single member on any team.

Rasquinha ended the session with a short story about how a senior coach once told him that he would never make it big in hockey and how this conversation doubled his grit and determination to achieve his goals. “Potential and possibilities in this time and age are immense,” he concluded.The choice always rested with the individual. “We always have the option of putting in our best foot forward and working towards achieving our goals,” he said.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 17:28 IST