It isn’t cheap to grow champions. They need years of nurturing and care to deliver on the promise they show in their formative years. In a country like India, where a large number of parents don’t have the resources to fulfil the latent potential in their children, it is necessary for others to step in. Corporate academies have played a great role in identifying talent at the grass-root level.In sports such as archery and hockey, the scouts may have to go to remote areas for this purpose. The Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur is one such initiative whose contribution is not lost on its products.”The academy’s role in the development of Indian archery is exemplary. The coaches there are fully dedicated and pursue their passion with single-minded dedication,” Rahul Banerjee, who won the gold medal in the men’s individual recurve at the Commonwealth Games, told MAIL TODAY. Rahul, the brother of another acclaimed archer, Dola Banerjee, also won the bronze in the team recurve event.Besides the two siblings, women’s individual recurve gold medallist Deepika Kumari and Jayanta Talukdar, the men’s individual recurve bronze medallist, have also honed their skills at the Tata Archery Academy. “I joined the academy when I was in class X and stayed there for six years. They take care of the educational needs as well as boarding and lodging. The cadets also get scholarships,” Rahul said.”Coaches such as Dharmendra Tiwary and Purnima Mahato have rendered great service to the sport. In addition, foreign coaches also visit the academy regularly. I also go there whenever required.” Archery being a traditional sport, its practitioners are less likely to be found in big cities. “The scouts go to remote areas in Jharkhand, Orissa, Punjab and North-East to select their cadets,” the archer said.advertisementSteel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is another corporation doing its bit for sports. At present, it runs fully functional academies in hockey, football, athletics and archery. “There are organisations who are promoting other sports. We are concentrating on games that are popular at the grass-root level in these areas,” SAIL’s assistant general manager (sports) Surinder Khanna, in charge of all the academies run by the conglomerate, told MAIL TODAY.The steel giant operates an academy for hockey in Rourkela, two for football in Bokaro and Burnpur, for athletics at Bhilai (boys) and Durgapur (girls) and one for archery at Kiriburu in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. In fact, former India captain Dilip Tirkey is known to visit the hockey academy and has also been present at selection trials.”The academies take in cadets in different age groups and depending on the promise they show, can remain there for three to five years,” Khanna said. “All their educational, boarding, food and medical expenses are taken care of and they are also paid a stipend.” But the lack of employment opportunities presents a hindrance to the development of these players.”Unfortunately, we cannot recruit them at SAIL. We cannot stop them from earning a livelihood as sometimes they are the sole breadwinners in their families. Most of them move on to the railways or police who provide them employment,” the official said. Players like Birendra Lakra and Sushil Xalco have already represented the country in hockey at various levels.