The Story Behind Sports Week

The undergraduate course’s very first Sports Week was conducted from 18th April to 24th April, 2022. There was a great response from the student body with large participation for football, chess, basketball, table tennis, box cricket and badminton events.

In light of this, we decided to catch the organisers of the event for a quick chat about what went on behind the scenes to give us the event we got.

Rodhsi Singhal and Pranav Bajaj, two third year undergraduate students, along with Surabhi Mundada, a first year student in the same program, were the masterminds behind the event. As visionaries, Rodhsi and Pranav are known to organise and manage various events at the institute. 

In this interview the trio dwell upon the challenges and lessons they learned while organising the Sports Week.

  1. What gave you the idea to have a Sports Week?

Rodhsi: When I was in my first year, lots of students were very enthusiastic about having any sort of sports day or anywhere where all of us could participate in sporting events and the Masters students already had Sports Week. We got to experience that with them but due to the whole ? thing we didn’t get any experience in managing. So we did get the idea from them, but managing planning and envisioning the whole thing was from scratch.

Surabhi: Besides, I think sports require you to have something on field. Our campus is not a school so you don’t have mandatory classes. So you have to take an initiative and actually do it. Since people are actually very dedicated to sports it’s obvious that they actually do want to conduct sports and not everyone has the management ability. So the ones who have it, step up like Rodhsi and Pranav.

Rodhsi: And Surabhi too.

  1. How did you know the people you were working with were the right people for the job?

Surabhi: Actually, you never know. You go through it on a trial and error basis but you obviously start with the people you know have the ability and capability to take responsibilities and get things done. If you can’t get things done, there is no point. We don’t have a hundred hands to be able to do everything. That’s what we were doing to be honest, eventually but, yeah, trial and error is what I think.

Rodhsi: Lot of people actually stick around when they see me or Pranav take the initiative of doing something and volunteering themselves. So, most of the people who do volunteer actually stick around till the end to help and assist and some of them don’t –  they show a lot of josh(enthusiasm) during the start but they eventually fade out, I guess. But yeah, you get to know more throughout the process of organizing who is the right person and who isn’t. It was a first-time thing for everyone.

Surabhi: And even though it was a sports event, what mattered more than whether you played the sport or not was how you manage things. Because it’s an organizing and management committee first, so the ones with leadership qualities, get things done, manage things, get things under control and talk to the crowd were the preference. You need to know that the person will stick around till the end and handle their responsibilities.

  1. We all recall that Sports Week was supposed to happen back in March, but ultimately it got delayed to April. What kind of challenges did you face leading upto the events?

Rodhsi: There’s no specific answer to that. Everyone was just settling into the new offline college setting again and exams were also being conducted at the time. The slot we got was the only good one since exams were over, people were settled in and more students were in town, because a lot of people actually only joined in April. Also a lot of planning goes into it beforehand so you also get cold feet sometimes.

Surabhi: To be honest there’s also a sequence of events that needs to be followed. If you have to get into Sports Week you need to have a team and that means you have to be familiar with faces. Fresher’s Day had to take place first since it was a place we could bond with our seniors. Obviously we already were good friends with our classmates but Fresher’s gave us another platform to bond with our seniors. There were also the exams and people were also going back home for holidays because of Holi and everything.

  1. What new things did you learn from organizing Sports Week?

Rodhsi: The first thing we learnt was that organizing Sports Week is not easy. It is not. It takes a toll on you and it takes a lot of time and mental availability and you have to give a lot of your time and resources. In the process of organizing you also learn that managing people is a lot harder than it looks and getting people to work is not easy unless they are motivated to a certain level, especially because there was no incentive. There isn’t even official recognition for organizing this so when there is no incentive you need people who are intrinsically motivated to carry out these kinds of things. You have to really bond well with the people you work with.

Surabhi: We had to anticipate and predict a lot of things beforehand and you have to be prepared for any last minute situation. That’s just managing along with your team. Communication was a very big thing that we learnt. To be very honest we didn’t want our WhatsApp to be flooded with messages and all of that so in the first draft of the messages we put for every sport used to have every single piece of information about the event so that there wouldn’t be any disclarity. People wouldn’t have to go back and forth looking for details and it was better for us as well. We even had proper communication between ourselves as a team. If someone’s handling one department, that’s it that’s yours. Communication is a must I feel.

Pranav: The only thing I can say is that it’s really a task. Before we started working I didn’t really expect it to be easy but I didn’t think it would be this hard. The worst part is talking to people. There was a lot of catering to everyone’s needs. Basically, time management

Surabhi: To be very honest, I’m not a sweet-talker. But because of this event I’ve had to talk to people a bit more sweetly, like an HR-type.

  1. What is the one memory you will most cherish from the experience of having conducted Sports Week?

Rodhsi: That’s a tough one.

Surabhi: Mera toh picture hai, table tennis wala(I have a picture, from table tennis). It’s my favourite picture. It’s a selfie I took with the two of them. One’s got a racquet on his face and the other  is leaning against the wall and I’m just throwing up a peace sign.

Pranav: The only thing of some value for me was the table tennis thing. I actually played table tennis in that hall for 5 1/2 years and I went there after 4-5. So it was a bit nostalgic for me but only for about 10 minutes. I used to play table tennis and cricket at Deccan.

Surabhi: The satisfaction after an event got over. There’s a feeling of relief knowing that we only had only 2 or 3 more to go. So as a celebration we used to drink sugarcane juice. That was nice.

  1. Was there anything you wish you could have done differently?

Surabhi: To be honest, compared to all other colleges and in general, we’ve done the best one can do in such a short amount of time. Except we could have kept refreshments!

Rodhsi: Refreshments were a part of the plan but the budget didn’t allow it. Honestly, If we had more support from the college, more time and help to plan all of this it could have gone much, much better. but no regrets.

Pranav: To be honest, some support from the participants. There were points where we couldn’t handle everyone and they were expecting us to handle every single thing.

Rodhsi: Very few people actually stepped up to help. If all those things happened ideally we could’ve done much better.

Pranav: We actually had to cancel two events; almost three. Track and Field, Marathon and Tug of War. Tug of War was supposed to be a surprise event, which was why we didn’t mention it in forms or anything. There wasn’t enough time and there weren’t enough people available. To be honest, everyone was tired, including us toh kabhi kabhi humare dimaag se bhi nikal jaata tha ki karna hai (so sometimes it would escape our minds that we had to do it).

  1. How exactly did you pick the sports that were supposed to be played during the event?

Surabhi: So, Sports Week is not about competing for me. It’s about getting people involved. Not everyone gets to play everyday and besides there were a lot of students from outside, this was an opportunity for everyone to come together and play. So we picked the most mainstream sports that everyone generally plays or can at least attempt and be able to play..

Rodhsi: Yeah, more commonly played sports was one of the factors. Second was the availability of sports facilities in and around the college. These were the most easily accessible sports. For instance, we could have even had swimming but we needed invigilators, more trained lifeguards and all that. So we had to choose sports that were easier to conduct, easier to access and were widely played.

  1. What made you three take the onus of organising this Sports Week?

Pranav: Well, to be very honest there was no one else. Gokhale’s Sports Week is usually conducted by the Masters students. We had a bad experience with it in our first year. So we decided that it was going to be an exclusive event for the B.Sc students. Everyone was also expecting the TYs to do it. And we also wanted to do it.

Surabhi: I did not come up with an idea, that was all Rodhsi and Pranav. They were enthusiastic about making college fun for people so it was totally their initiative. No one was forced to do anything. 

Rodhsi: I have a funny story. So, when college reopened  Ashish sir conducted an induction  meeting at Kale Hall where he addressed all the three batches. I remember him mentioning my name specifically to say that, “Rodhsi will be organizing certain events, and so everyone should contact him for the organisation related work”. Hence, in a way he sort of  put that responsibility on my shoulders. Later on when Pranav and I were  sitting in a classroom the idea of organising the Sports Week struck me all of a sudden. What followed were a series of organising sprees on Excel and brainstorming sessions where I would jot my ideas down roughly on paper and Pranav would organise them digitally, as he is good with computers. This was sort of a starting point for the entire process. Further, since Pranav, Surabhi and I are good friends we decided on working on this idea together and soon became very invested in it as well. 

  1. Do you think that GIPE has the potential to have a full fledged sports team and participate in inter-college sporting events?/ What would you like to say about the future of sports at GIPE?

Together : Great potential. Honestly, just great. 100%, full potential.

Rodhsi: It was actually very emotional. A very emotional moment especially for me. When I saw that it was just 60 of us, I am not saying bad about anyone, but it was sad, sports wasn’t a great scene. How can you expect sports to be a great scene amongst 60 people. But at the end of the sports week I was like, if the college offers basic resources like places to practice and some encouragement, GIPE can do wonders in terms of sports. We actually have great potential! 

Pranav:  Great potential is kind of an understatement. Sports like badminton, football, basketball, table tennis; actually every sport has really great players in our college.

Surabhi: And it was actually unexpected, itna kam crowd mein itna jyada hoga. So yes, there is a lot of potential.

  1. How did you decide on/ book the venues for the various sports? What were the criteria?

Pranav:  We had the number of participants in our mind when we were going into it and were deciding the venue. So, we just mapped out the matches. And it basically was like ek given time mein itne logon ke matches ho jayenge comfortably (how many matches can we comfortably conduct at a given time). We actually wanted access to some good facilities as well so initially we tried for PYC, but it didn’t work out. So, we had to settle for Deccan. For football and basketball we kind of went for a place where the spectators could sit comfortably and watch the matches. 

Rodhsi: It was places that had a close proximity to college, that was a main point to consider. Many students were like idhar udhar (here and there), but that didn’t make sense because the college had to be the centre point. So we chose venues  in and around college itself. The main factors where that It should have nice and decent facilities and spectators should be able to seat themselves. Pricing was another major factor as well, we couldn’t go for something very expensive.

Surabhi: Basically the end point was if you are doing it, you are doing it right. Karna hai toh acche se karna hai(if you’re going to do it then do it well), you don’t have to adjust, just for the sake of it. We were giving thought for the spectators as well. The audience are not playing. It was a very thought out process.

  1. Could you comment on the advice/ vision you have for future sporting events in our college?

Rodhsi: If you can see it, you can get it done. It can definitely be on a larger scale from next year onwards. 

Surabhi: I am an FY, but what I have observed is enthusiasm and dedication is a must. You can’t just give up in the process because it is getting really hectic. So someone who is really strong minded and ready to face everything. Just don’t give up, jitna hai you have to do it full heartedly with entire dedication. Be enthusiastic and take initiative. Ek insaan nahi kara sakta sab kuch (One person can’t do everything).

Rodhsi: One advice that I have on a very basic logistic level is that- ideally yes you should have a whole team, a dedicated team towards the organising of these events. Second, an idea that we had for next year, if we could stay back and help great, but for the people who do it next time – that there should be an entry fee for the participants, very basic – 10, 20, 30 bucks for each sport they participate in. Because number one that gives it a more serious feel and second more importantly apart from the certificates and winning prize, the entry fee of all participants in a specific sport would be the winning cash prize for the first second third places. Its a really great incentive and it makes the competition way more competitive, the whole vibe around it.

Pranav: Microeconomics 101.

( people laugh)

Surabhi: But I think it is more on an intercollegiate level. You just need to play for your own college, games that you enjoy. If the college is organising an unofficial event for everyone, since you are not competing, I think sports week is a week where everyone can perform without being conscious. If we bring up the competition part, then people would be hesitant to play. It’s a good idea if we go on a more intercollege level.

Pranav:  To be honest, sports week has to be something competitive and like if playing sports is not enough incentive or motivation for people, at least losing out on the participation fee might be and they’ll take things more seriously. We actually had people who registered and then didn’t care about it. And that is actually irritating. As organisers we had to rethink everything to be honest. There were a lot of times we had to look for last minute participants, we maintained a waiting list of people who registered after the deadline. So if anyone backed out we had to ask them if they were able to play, we had to accommodate. So I think the participation fee thing kind of makes sense, they will at least take things seriously. And if they still don’t come, it’s their loss.

Surabhi: I think we tried to accommodate everyone. Even the last minute entries. I think there might be hardly 2 or 3 people that might be left out because of unavoidable circumstances. We even changed the draws last minute on court, it was managed to the end and not one person was left out.

Pranav:  That’s the biggest achievement we have. People who genuinely wanted to play didn’t miss out.  

-Interviewed by the 8:10 Sports Team

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