ENGN: Ushering in new era for female athletes in India
ENGN, also known as Engine, is playing an integral part in providing support and opportunities to women athletes. With a 360-degree focus, ENGN is trying to bring a different approach towards scouting and building female sporting talent in India.
Neil Banerjee February 14, 2023
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Women’s participation in sports has traditionally been low due to cultural and societal factors such as gender stereotyping. Despite some progress in recent years, female athletes in India still face significant impediments as far as their success and representation in the sports arena is concerned.
Apart from gender barriers, a lack of access to resources, funding and opportunities, little support, limited media coverage, and inadequate facilities and training programmes are the stumbling blocks for Indian women athletes.
ENGN is a platform through which female athletes can get what they have been lacking and take their game up to the next level.
SME Futures spoke to its co-founder, Megha Desai, to know how ENGN is working as a launch pad for women athletes and what the company is doing about scouting for more talent. We also get to know about how it is meeting its aim of providing energy, movement, motivation, and power to its athletes.
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“ENGN is the only athlete management company in India that works exclusively with female athletes. The company’s mission is simple: to support girls and young talent to pursue their sport as a career without giving up on their dreams,” Megha points out.
Inspiration behind ENGN
“The global inequality that women face in sport seemed to also stem from a systemic issue,” Megha says.
She adds, “I felt that in my personal way, I wanted to support the cause of female athletes. Further, within this subset of female athletes, Indian female athletes are still under-represented compared to their global counterparts.”
Megha wanted to create an ecosystem that supports Indian female athletes, and provides for all their needs, including training, nutrition and mental health. She started ENGN with a mission to take care of the athletes’ needs so they can focus on just one thing – Making India Proud.
Focusing on women athletes
“We have had some stellar female sportswomen over the years. While globally, names like Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, and many such icons broke many stereotypes, Indian sportswomen were just about coming into the limelight. We had stars like PT Usha, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, and so many others,” says Megha.
“We need to collectively encourage the hundreds of female athletes who are struggling to find their spot in the sun. And above that, we need to encourage young girls to take up sports in larger numbers,” she underlines.
Putting women first and seeing them top the charts in multiple arenas is the only thing Megha strives to achieve. In her own way, she has taken up the torch to light the path of many underprivileged women.
Sponsorships and 360-degree management approach
Taking a 360-degree management approach, ENGN looks after all the infrastructural backing that is required for the facilities as well as taking care of the various other items that are deemed necessary for the athletes.
“Our primary focus is to provide the necessary infrastructural support to our athletes. So, in addition to a monthly financial investment made on an athlete, ENGN also provides support to them in areas like equipping them with the necessary gear, arranging the right coaching facilities for them and giving them the physical, nutritional and mental coaching that they require,” Megha elaborates.
Sponsorships are not that easy. It’s a slow process and besides, there has to be some sound logic behind the collaboration for both the player and brand. To bring in sponsorships, ENGN has to stock the best-in-class equipment and manage the well-being of their athletes.
“Sponsorships or other brand associations are initiated only if there’s a logical fit and requirement between the brand and the athlete. Our Head of Sports, Deepika Pereira, comes with over a decade of experience in sports management and she, along with the team, ensures that the right opportunities come along for our athletes,” says Megha.
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Besides this, they also make it a priority to pay close attention to the mental well-being of their athletes and are always focused on providing each of them with the right nutrition.
Tailored nutrition and mental well-being
Diet planning and tailored nutrition is of utmost importance for an athlete. To consume the right food and in the right proportion is the key to performing with excellence and at the highest level. A bespoke diet can help an athlete to develop an edge over their competitors.
“We provide the nutrition, the training, the mental health coaches, and the other requirements that are needed by the athlete to improve her performance. We have a certified Olympic level sports nutritionist as part of the ENGN team and she works with the athletes based on their individual requirements and upcoming games. Each sport and each athlete require a different plan and they are customised as per that,” says Megha.
Along with a focus on their nutrition, immense priority is also given to the mental health of the players. Keeping a constant check on their mental condition is important so that they can handle pressure and do not feel exhausted.
“We focus on our athletes’ overall well-being, including mental health. We have mental health coaches to ensure that our athletes, while working on their physical strength and stamina, also develop the right mindset to meet their goals. Winning and losing is part of any sport. Thankfully, mental health and its importance is being spoken about more openly than ever before and at ENGN, if any of our athletes needs help in that area, we back it fully,” she elaborates.
The road ahead – Increasing visibility of brand value
“Being a consumer facing brand, our marketing is centred around our athletes, who have been having a good run across the championships and tournaments. Further, Esha Deol has been our brand ambassador for over a year. Our campaign #OwnYourGame ran across multiple media platforms, including outdoors. In today’s day and age of social media, our community of women pursuing health and fitness are our biggest market and our biggest influencers as they wear and promote our products,” says Megha.
She also talks about Varanium Lifestyle, its philosophy and its USPs. She sheds light on how she plans to popularise it.
“Being part of Varanium Lifestyle, a fashion and lifestyle company, creating a high-quality performance wear brand felt like our calling. Our aim was clear – to create world class performance wear for women at affordable prices. Our current product line includes a varied range of tank tops, racerbacks, sports bras, shorts, double layer shorts, t-shirts and leggings. We are also in the process of launching a new range of co-ords for all those who want to take their workouts outdoors. The products are available on our website engn.in as well as at our first retail store in Mumbai which is scheduled to open in January 2023,” says Megha as she signs off.