Cricket is a passion for Sharad Mehra, CEO for APAC at Global University Systems (GUS)—an international network of higher education institutions. So much so that he has conceptualised an office cricket tournament and has been coaching the teams for the past few years. “I used to play cricket at the university level and also got selected for a sports college, but then I realised that while sports was a strong passion, career-wise I wanted a different trajectory.”
At GUS, different internal entities used to play informally. Realising how this camaraderie and team spirit could be channelised into something stronger, Mehra set up a formal cricket tournament.
In 2018, he formally launched the Challengers Cup, an intra-office tournament. In the first year, they only had men participating as they thought women might not be interested in cricket. That was a mistake, in Mehra’s words. The following year when they decided to create a women’s team, there was an overwhelming response. And Mehra, along with the assistant coach, decided to coach them.
Given’s Mehra’s schedule, while it’s difficult to coach all the time, he spends time with the team before any important tournament. “No matter where I am in the world during tournament days, I receive regular updates. Technology has been a big help. The practice nets have cameras installed so that I can watch from anywhere and give my feedback.” Overcoming the challenges, Mehra’s women’s team won the finals, which was no less than the World Cup for them.
Coaching office teams has helped Mehra bond not just with the players better but with the larger organisation as well. “While there might be 11 players in the team, they will have 1,100 supporters in the organisation.” Speaking on the learnings on the personal front, he adds, “I have personally learnt so much from their passion, commitment to practice and the purpose of winning. These informal platforms are great springboards for driving change management, identifying potential leaders, etc. They also help people connect in a more human way.”
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