Saturday, November 24, 2001

Sports industry: Is the game over?

THE National Games to be held in Punjab from November 19 to December 1 has got no significance for the sports industry of Punjab, based at Jalandhar.

The sports industry in the region is facing a slowdown
The sports industry in the region is facing a slowdown

The sports industry is already facing a slowdown following the inflow of finished goods from abroad after the implementation of WTO. Whether this event will raise any hopes of improvement in the industry, remains to be seen. At a time when sports departments are gearing up for the event, there is no movement in the industry.

"There is no development in the market, it is dead", said the secretary of Sports Forum, Jalandhar,Sanjay Kohli. He felt that the finished goods entering the country had an adverse impact on the sports industry. These items had less duty on them as compared to the raw material which the sports goods manufacturers purchased. Goods like table tennis balls, badminton rackets, footballs, shuttlecocks, etc come in from Taiwan, China, Korea and many other countries. Commenting on the national event being organised here, he said the purchases made by players during there stay here was the only impact that the games might have on the industry.


Baldev Raj, a sports goods manufacturer, had similar views on the event being organised here. At Jalandhar six events are likely to take place. According to Baldev Raj, this event will make no difference to the market. "Almost the entire equipment for this event has been bought from abroad. With the coming of foreign goods in the market, the local manufacturers are suffering a lot", he stated. He also said many foreign items in the market are finished goods and are cheaper than their products. He expressed his concern about the slowdown of the sports industry and urged the Punjab Government to look into it.

N.K. Sabarwal, who runs a sports manufacturing unit and deals in the trade of many sports goods, had a positive approach to the event. In his opinion this national event will encourage children to enter sports and leave their ‘idiot boxes’. Expressing concern about the decline in the sports market at Jalandhar, he said the influx of finished goods from abroad has resulted in small producers leaving this business, whereas the medium manufacturers are importing goods from outside and throwing it in the local market. This has led to the downfall of sports industry.

There are many people connected with the sports industry who have no knowledge of the national games being held in Punjab. N.K. Kohli, owner of a sports goods shop, thinks that this event will increase interest among children for sports and may also improve the sale of sports goods in Jalandhar. Disagreeing with this viewpoint a sports goods shop owner, Sunil, stated that little of no difference will be seen in the market as a result of this event. He said demand for sports goods is constant and the goods coming in from abroad are making it difficult for the sports manufacturers to survive. He also said it will take at least one year for the people to decide and judge the goods, all will depend on quality of the product. Commenting on the National Games he said this event would only benefit local retailers who might manage to sell some goods during that period, otherwise these will not make much difference.

The morale of many of these manufacturers seem to be low but there is still a ray of hope. Will this event, which attracts the best players in the nation bring any respite to its sports goods manufacturers or the sports industry here is yet to be seen.