Adani Foundation

The sporting spirit

Sports can be a powerful tool for economic and social development, and corporates can play a proactive role in helping build an enabling environment. India has immense potential and talent. There are government initiatives that promote sports culture in the country. However, lack of infrastructure, opportunities and resources hinder the growth of talent. Together, with government incentives, the private sector can provide a much-needed boost to talents like Neeraj Chauhan, who can bring laurels to the nation.

In the past few years, India has seen increased private sector participation contributing to the development of sports. The record 107-medal win by the Indian squad at the 19th Asian Games in 2023 made heads turn as it turned the spotlight on India’s progress. Much of the credit goes to India Inc as many winners were backed by corporates like Reliance, Tata, Jindal and Adani. 

The Adani Group, whose vision always aligns with that of the nation, believes India can realise its potential and produce world-class athletes with concerted efforts. Committed to supporting sportspersons as they go all out to bring glory, Adani Group Chairman Mr Gautam Adani announced support for chess prodigy R. Praggnanandhaa early this year.

“We are extremely proud to support the dynamic Praggnanandhaa. The speed and efficiency with which he has progressed in the sport is nothing short of remarkable, and truly an example to all Indians. There is nothing more noble than representing the nation and winning laurels at the highest levels, and the Adani Group is wholeheartedly devoted to supporting athletes in this journey,” Mr Adani said after meeting the chess ace.

The 18-year-old secured the top place among India’s players after defeating World champion Ding Liren with black pieces at the 2024 Tata Steel Chess tournament. Praggnanandhaa surpassed Viswanathan Anand to claim the top position. He began playing chess at 5 and became India’s youngest and the world’s second youngest Grandmaster at 12 in 2018. He is the fifth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster after Abhimanyu Mishra, Sergey Karjakin, Gukesh D and Javokhir Sindarov. His elder sister R. Vaishali is also a Grandmaster, which makes the siblings the world’s first ever brother-sister GM duo.

Praggnanandhaa became the world’s youngest chess player to reach the World Cup final in 2023, the second Indian after Viswanathan Anand to achieve the feat. He defeated Magnus Carlsen multiple times in 2022. The Chennai-based chess player also won the silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023.

Then there is Amir Hussain Lone, whose distinctive playing style is an inspiration to many. He uses his legs to bowl and shoulder and neck to bat. Despite losing both arms when eight years old in a freak mishap at his father’s mill, he never lost the will to play his favourite sport. Seeing his passion and drive to bowl and bat, his teacher introduced him to para cricket. The 34-year-old from Jammu and Kashmir has been playing professional cricket since 2013.

When Mr. Gautam Adani applauded his extraordinary skills, Lone was elated that his struggles were finally rewarded. Mr Adani wrote on X: “We salute your courage, dedication to the game and the spirit of never giving up, even in adverse circumstances. @AdaniFoundation will contact you soon and provide you with every possible support in this unique journey. Your struggle is an inspiration for all of us.”

Through its flagship #GarvHai initiative, run by its sports arm Adani Sportsline, the Adani Group aims at nurturing and empowering talented athletes from underprivileged backgrounds. It has supported 28 talented players across sports, such as boxing, wrestling, tennis, javelin throw, shooting, running, shotput, brisk walking, and archery. Among those who benefited are Commonwealth Games gold medalist wrestlers Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Deepak Punia and boxer Amit Panghal. Dahiya and Punia secured silver medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 2020 and the 2023 Asian Games. Currently, both wrestlers are trying to win their places at next year’s Paris Olympics.