“As the CEO of the Academy, I am focused on nurturing and guiding youngsters all the way to
winning laurels for the country. I am sure that the day will come very soon.”
Having been a national level badminton player, actually unlocked unprecedented opportunities for Prabha Chatterjee, Founder-CEO, Dhanuka Dhunseri Soumyadeep Poulomi Table Tennis Academy to click in the sports industry. In a free-wheeling chat with Shree Lahiri she opens up about what kicked off her entrepreneurial activity, the challenges she faced, how she brought about a difference in the service provided, her future plans and more….
Q1. Considering your sports background (as you were a national level badminton player), what inspired you to become an entrepreneur in this space?
Growing up with a background in sports, I’ve always held sports close to my heart.
In 2019, with both my children settled in their respective careers, I was looking to take up an assignment that brought in a sense of fulfilment. That’s when I was approached to be the founder-CEO of Dhanuka Dhunseri Soumyadeep Poulomi Table Tennis Academy.
And, I immediately realised that this was the right opportunity and the right time to pursue my true passion. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I was excited to be involved in the training of youngsters in table tennis.
As the CEO of the Academy, I am focused on nurturing and guiding these youngsters all the way to winning laurels for the country. I am sure that the day will come very soon.
Q2. How did you try to fine-tune your Academy so that it delivers differently?
Having raised a child who went on to earn an international ranking in tennis, I saw from close quarters how important it was for the student, parent and coach to work as a team to achieve the desired results.
That experience made me realise there are three key stakeholders – the student, the parents and the coach – in the ecosystem. I felt I could achieve my goals only if I was able to provide the finest coaches in the best environment, inspire the student to work hard, and also manage the parents’ expectations.
Indeed, taking a holistic view of the goals of each student is the key to what differentiates our Academy from the others operating in West Bengal and even the rest of the country.
Q3. Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you?
There have been many challenges. The quality of table tennis in Bengal has been traditionally among the best in the country, until recently, when other states started to overtake Bengal. This was mainly owing to the fact that there wasn’t much advancement in Bengal – both in terms of coaching methods as well as facilities.
Moreover, funds were lacking to promote players to participate in tournaments nationally and internationally to improve their levels. Being a new academy in this space, it wasn’t easy breaking into this already crowded space with my new ideas.
The mindset of parents is another challenge that I often struggle with. Sometimes their expectations are unrealistic and other times it’s a challenge to convince them that their children need to focus on only one sport and devote the required time to it, if they are to realize their potential.
Upgrading the levels of the coaches constantly is another issue that keeps me busy as it’s not only their technical acumen that needs to be periodically updated but also their soft skills in being the most effective coach to the students.
Finally, the most important challenge of all—inspiring the students to work hard and achieve their potential. For that, I have to constantly keep myself motivated enough to serve as an effective mentor to each student.
Q4. How do you deal with competition in your chosen field?
To be frank, I haven’t found much competition in any table tennis academy as our philosophy and goals are very different vis-à-vis the other academies in Kolkata/West Bengal.
Q5. What are some strengths that a woman entrepreneur should possess?
All entrepreneurs – irrespective of gender – should possess what I call the three-way method to success. These are Passion, Knowledge, and Implementation. These qualities are dynamic and need constant updating.
Q6. What are your future plans?
My future plans for the Academy are to move to a larger, better facility with a gym, cafeteria, and housing so that our students can truly pursue their dreams of one day winning gold for the country.
Q7. Any tips for someone starting out today?
I will restrict myself to sports. Make sure you love the sport you choose; you are in an academy that feels like home, and you are with a coach who shares your dreams.