Polo is not just a sport for Naveen Jindal, it is his way of life. The Chairman of Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) discovered polo at the age of 18 and there has been no looking back since. Jindal has been playing the sport for 30 years now.
But Jindals first love was riding. His father, Om Prakash Jindal, had gifted him a horse when he was six years old. An ace horse rider in school, Jindal made a natural progression to playing polo.
A regular at all major polo tournaments in Delhi and Jaipur, he is also the owner and captain of one of India's top polo teams, Jindal Panther. He owns a polo farm and ranch too near Delhi, called Jindal Farms, which houses three polo grounds. Amid his busy schedule, Jindal makes sure he finds time to visit the farm at least twice a week. He reaches the farm at 7am sharp to ride horses and practise with his teammates. Jindal believes that the sport has taught him the values of collaboration, hard work and patience. His love of the game runs so deep that he has opened up the farm to anyone who wants to learn the sport and practise, which is also his way of encouraging young, aspiring players.
- Sonal Khetarpal
Stay Fit, Stay Relevant
When interviewing a candidate, K. Sudarshan, MD of executive search firm EMA-Partners, tries to gauge the fitness level of the applicant. He believes physical fitness is important for leadership roles. "Physical fitness leads to mental fitness. In todays dynamic business environment, while not explicitly stated, physical fitness becomes a critical parameter when you evaluate a candidate for a leadership role," he says.
Sudarshan walks the talk too. His plush Mumbai office is studded with an array of marathon medals. He has run the half marathon at the Mumbai Marathon every year for over a decade now. Sudarshan also ran the half marathon in Amsterdam last year.
A frequent traveller, Sudarshans running shoes are always part of his travel kit. When he is in town, he makes sure he runs at least 2-3 times a day. "This is the time I get to de-stress and recharge my batteries without clouding my mind with work related stuff," he adds.
He has also been playing squash over the last 12 years and his weekends are usually reserved for a game or two of the sport. Playing a demanding game like squash, according to him, is a source of adrenaline to compete in the real world. Sudarshan also believes that fitness is a great way to keep up with the younger generation at the workplace and beyond. With most workplaces being dominated by the millennial and GenX, Sudarshan believes that looking fit and knowing all the sub-plots of Game of Thrones have become extremely important to stay relevant. "Staying fit also means more options in terms of what one can wear to work or otherwise! Good fitting attires add to the confidence of an individual too," he says.
- Ajita Shashidhar
Back in the Game
Like most children, Vivek Bhargava, CEO of DAN Performance Group, dreamed of becoming a sports star when he was a child. And he had the skill to back it up. A table tennis player, he went on to compete at state and national level championships. However, Bhargava gave up the sport to focus on studies.
He began his entrepreneurial journey in 1997 with digital advertising agency Communicate 2, which was acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network in 2012. Around the same time, Bhargava caught up with an old friend and after reminiscing about the good old days, they ended up playing table tennis together after almost 15 years. That is when Bhargava realised what he was missing in his life.
Bhargava was soon back in the game - that too with a blast. He now plays competitively. The entrepreneur bagged two bronze medals in the National Table Tennis Championship in the mens and mixed categories in 2015. In 2017, he won two silver medals in the same categories.
Bhargava focuses his CSR activity on building an ecosystem for the sport in India. He promotes Kamgar Academy in Central Mumbai for table tennis where he himself also practises 3-4 times a week. Bhargava has also invested in table tennis clothing and equipment start-up, Spinart, and bought a team called iProspect Challengers. In 2017, iProspect was the title sponsor for the first two seasons of Mumbai Super League, a table tennis tournament that has already four seasons old. His dream now is for India to win gold at the 2024 Olympics.
- Sonal Khetarpal