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In a league of their own

When businessman Sharad Sancheti, who moved to Bangalore two years back, was interested in playing a different way of sports, he found that getting in touch with like-minded sports enthusiasts was, in fact, quite difficult.

Published: 02nd June 2012 10:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2012 11:53 AM   |  A+A-

When businessman Sharad Sancheti, who moved to Bangalore two years back, was interested in playing a different way of sports, he found that getting in touch with like-minded sports enthusiasts was, in fact, quite difficult. His tennis playing partner, Akshay Murthi, a telecom engineer, who had also moved back to the city, too was facing similar problems.
Inspired by the format of tennis leagues that Murthi was part of during his stint in the US, where you could sign up for league matches with other interested people, the duo decided to emulate this popular system by starting My Sportz Network. The company would not only let you play your favourite sport but also up the ante a bit by organising league matches with proper teams, referees and other match paraphernalia.
My Sportz Network, launched in October last year, was dreamt up by the duo to act as a facilitator for playing sports, besides being a social platform for networking and getting to know people in your city. “There is a lack of space in the city for any sports activity. You have to wait for a membership to a club which might take years,” says Sancheti. “Our target were the thousands of IT professionals who move into the city for work and usually end up watching TV or going to the mall during the weekends, instead of engaging in any physical activity,”
he says.
Once you sign up with My Sportz Network either as a team or as an individual for a fee, it’s their job to find you a team and organise league matches that usually go on for six Sundays. “In order to solve the problem of finding playing grounds, we decided to tie up with a couple of schools so that we could use their infrastructure on Sundays,” Sancheti says. Although the matches that are played do have winners and losers, there is no prize money involved, but just token medals
and trophies.
The format is an open league and anybody can play from any age to gender. “Recently we had a team of individuals in their 50s and 60s, who called themselves the Bangalore Oldies and played a basketball league match,” Sancheti explains, adding, “People who have signed up with us have reported that this gives them something to look forward to, when they become part of a monthly schedule. It also gives them a chance to go back to playing the sport that they love.”
And are cricket league matches the most requested? Sancheti gives a surprising response. “When we began, we assumed that cricket would be most popular, but we were shocked to see that nearly everybody who signs up, wants to play soccer.” Basketball, volleyball and tennis are some of the other popular games. Currently, the league matches are played out at five convenient locations in the city. Two leagues have already been played out and the next is scheduled for May 13.
And how does it work exactly? “Once you sign up and give us your preference, we send you a pre-decided schedule. We also provide everything from referees to ball boys and equipment and keep tabs on your score. The online forum on the website is used by members to discuss strategy for upcoming matches, performance and to break the ice.
And just like real life sporting bonanzas, there’s entertainment involved here too.
“Just for fun, we organise after-parties, take photographs during the matches and even provide team merchandise,” says Sancheti. The response according to him has been phenomenal with about 90 per cent of the participants coming back for more matches. The league matches participation for an entire team is priced at Rs 6,000 to Rs 11,000, which comes to about Rs 1,000 per head and is all-inclusive. If anybody is interested, they can contact at www.mysportznetwork.com.

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