Usha International’s relationship with Mumbai Indians has grown deeper: Komal Mehra

Usha is deeply committed to reintroducing long-forgotten sports to the people of the region. Usha Silai School is also involved in these rural sports events, with Silai School women organizing, promoting, and competing.


Ms Komal Mehra, Head – Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International

The brand has been an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of a wide range of inclusive sporting initiatives across the country, including its affiliation with the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians.

It has also been a sponsor of sports like Ultimate Flying Disc, Golf, and other Indian indigenous regional sports such as Kalari, Mallakhamb, Siat Khnam, Thang-Ta, and Saz-Loung, Satoliya (popularly known as pithu), Yoga, cricket for the specially-abled, sports for visually challenged (athletics, kabaddi, judo, and powerlifting), as well as football and Tug of war.

In an email interaction with MyKhel, Ms Komal Mehra, Head – Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International spoke about the reason behind the brand’s long-term association with MI and other sports. Here are the excerpts:

Q: Usha has been associated with Mumbai Indians for over a decade, why according to you is this partnership beneficial?

Ans: Usha’s decade-long partnership with Mumbai Indians demonstrates the mutual respect and alignment of both brands. It reflects a shared objective and passion for growing sports – and all the benefits reaped from playing a sport – and establishing a sporting environment via strategic collaborations.

Our relationship with Mumbai Indians has grown deeper with each passing year. We have taken our commitment to supporting and encouraging the spirit of sportsmanship beyond India this year with MI Emirates for the UAE’s top T20 league 2023.

This year with the debut season of the women’s league in India, we have also extended our partnership to the MI Women’s team, and their winning was just amazing.

This move is aligned with our efforts to reinforce and reinstate gender-neutral platforms. It offers a great opportunity to solidify our engagement with consumers and has undoubtedly enhanced Usha’s brand recall and exposure.

Q. How do you think MI’s performance was in IPL 2023?

Ans: Mumbai Indians is amongst the most successful franchises in the T20 cricket league in India. Having won the championship 5 times already, the team came out stronger than ever this season, maintaining a steady position across the table to reach the playoffs.

Our partnership with this amazing team that shares our brand ethos and has performed consistently over the years has been an incredible journey of ups and downs. The team has consistently showcased great sportsmanship and team spirit during all their league journeys.

Q. As a brand, Usha not only partners with sports on the national level but also on a rural front? Please elaborate on Usha’s association with various indigenous sports.

Ans: Usha’s commitment to giving back to the society and community has been ingrained in its culture since its inception. The company recognizes that sports is a powerful means to foster inclusivity across communities, social classes, and genders, while imparting invaluable life lessons and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.

Usha’s Play ethos is wired into the DNA of the company, its primary objective being to create awareness around, and encourage people to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle, underpinning our commitment to supporting and strengthening India’s sporting ecosystem across all levels – from the grassroots to the global.

We actively encourage and support indigenous sports in the deepest pockets of India, striving to break down gender barriers in the process. Usha International, in association with their Silai schools, has managed to explore a diverse range of inclusive sporting initiatives throughout the country, inspiring communities to revive/pursue their traditional sports.

One of the biggest and most significant inclusive platforms supported by Usha is the National Athletics Championship for the Blind. We are also committed to encouraging and growing the lesser-known sports and partnering with various Indian regional indigenous sports.

The list includes indigenous sports like Kalari, Mallakhamb, Siat Khnam, Thang-Ta, and Saz-Loung, Satoliya (popularly known as Pithu), Yoga, and Silambam in various regions of India. These also include Usha’s long-standing association with cricket for the differently abled, Ultimate Flying Disc for the less privileged, and sports for the visually challenged – athletics, Kabaddi, Judo, powerlifting, and football.

Q: Women are an important part of our community – how does Usha empower them through its sporting events?

Ans: India boasts a rich sports culture and at Usha, we are deeply committed to harnessing its power as a catalyst for community unity and gender neutrality. We firmly believe that women play a vital role in the development of any society or culture, yet they often get unequal opportunities vis-à-vis men.

Sports serve as a platform for women to break free from gender boundaries and limitations, step outside their homes, foster social interactions, create opportunities for themselves, and become self-reliant, particularly in isolated rural regions and towns.

Over the years, Usha has made inroads into this space challenging stereotypes by empowering women with diverse skill sets, whether via our Silai Schools or through games and sports.

From Kalarippayattu in Kerala to Saz-loung in Kashmir, and flying disc to yoga, we support a multitude of sporting events throughout the year to promote the spirit of a healthy and active lifestyle pan-India, also ensuring participation by women across ages and levels.

At Usha, we believe empowered women play a big role in an emancipated society therefore we consciously work towards gender inclusivity – through our Silai Schools, sporting platforms at the grassroots, local, and national level.

Q: For a country as diversified as India, what in your view is the importance of sports and tournaments such as IPL?

Ans: In our view, sports and tournaments like the IPL hold immense importance for a country as diversified as India. They serve as a unifying force, bringing together people from different regions, cultures, and backgrounds.

Moreover, sports also provide a source of entertainment and recreation for millions of people, offering a much-needed respite from the daily challenges of life. The cricket season especially, captivates the nation with its thrilling contests while showcasing the incredible talent of cricketers, both domestic and international.

Sports play a crucial role in nurturing and developing talent – providing a platform for young players to display their skills alongside established professionals – instilling true sportsmanship and much more. Overall, sports and sporting events not only bring joy and excitement but also foster community bonding, unity, impact the economy positively, and help position India in the global landscape.

Q: Komal, what is your role in driving Usha’s ‘Play’ brand ethos?

Ans: Sports is an integral part of Usha’s ethos as a company. As a brand, we strive to aspire everyone from all walks of life to embrace sports and add ‘play’ to their day-to-day lives.

Starting with exploring opportunities at the grassroots level to our long-standing association with the MI franchise in cricket and golf, as well Ultimate Frisbee, we leverage each of these to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as creating gender-neutral and inclusive platforms, and the many valuable life lessons learnt on the sports field.

To grow awareness and encourage more and more people to do the same, Usha ensure it is present in the right place at the right time, not just on-ground but in the online space with @Usha_Play.

Our foremost responsibility is to ensure that we understand the nuances of the needs and availability at the traditional and grassroots levels. In fact, it is these efforts that led us to become aware of the diverse and indigenous sports of India.

Once we get the lay of the land, we identify, scrutinise, select, and enhance the existing sporting events, support them financially, ensure optimum branding and seamless execution, and ensure equipment availability across all demographics (gender, age, differently-abled people).

With each of these initiatives, whether mainstream or regional, we move one step forward in creating awareness amongst the masses and penetrate deeper. Further, when we work with Golf events, the Mumbai Indians, and Celebrities, it helps us deepen our connect across rural and urban India. With each sporting event, we manage to showcase and bring awareness of indigenous sports and Usha’s commitment to PLAY.

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