8/21/2018 8:53:24 AM (GMT+3)

Brand that helps Indian hockey players stick together

Brand that helps Indian hockey players stick together

JAKARTA, Indonesia: When the Indian men and women’s hockey teams began their campaign at the Asian Games in Jakarta, the players were shielded by ‘Rakshak’, a brand that has its roots in Jalandhar, Punjab.

The women’s team defeated Indonesia 8-0 in its opening match while the men were ruthless in their 17-0 rout of the hosts on Monday. 

“Some of the Indian women players—Rani Rampal, Deep Grace Ekka —use our sticks,” Jalandhar-based Rakshak owner Sanjay Kohli told khelupdates.com. “Simranjeet Singh and junior players like Harjeet Singh and Talweinder Singh are also part of our brand. We hope to show our presence in the Indian team at Jakarta.”

Rakshak, started in 1981 by the late Des Raj Kohli, is an equipment brand that sells about 60,000 hockey sticks a year. They used to export to Australia, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore in the 1990s, but stopped to focus on the Indian market. They now plan to get back into the international market.

“Sports goods is our family business since the time of my grandfather during the pre-Partition days in Pakistan,” Kohli said.

The entrepreneur said he wants to promote it at the international market. Kohli believes that if India plays at the top level, the hockey stick business will be boosted.

Kohli rued the fact that his company had an opportunity to become a leader in the European market, but he restricted himself to a local manufacturer.

“When top European brands approached us, we grabbed the order as we wanted to make quick bucks. We made sticks for them but without using our brand. Bigger brands always insist on self-promotion. Hence, we remained a local manufacturer and couldn’t get into the international market,” he added. “To earn money that was a good decision, but to keep off your own brand and promote others wasn’t a great idea.”

From 1992-96, Rakshak had exported their sticks to Korea, Malaysia, but as manufacturers of European brands. But much before that they had sponsored the Indian women’s team at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.

“We didn’t look back after that. We’ve maintained our brand in the last 40 years despite the presence of big names,” he added.

But given the competitive market and with Jalandhar has multiple sports equipment manufacturers, the Kohlis have survived cut-throat competition.

“Our USP is our father’s lineage in this business (Romesh Chander Kohli is the MD of Beat All Sports. His company manufactures cricket bats and hockey sticks, which are popular worldwide under the brand name BAS/Vampire). We don’t make gears or equipment for other sports. We’ve focussed on hockey since last four decades and followed the latest technology.

“Most companies use a single piece of wood, but we wanted to reinforce the technology by using a composite material which doesn’t break. We also take feedbacks from players and technical people as most countries have different requirements due to weather. We use different techniques for different countries as the weather varies from place to place. For example, the methodology that we use for India, we won’t use for European countries,” he said.

Kohli also has his apprehensions on expanding the brand to Europe, but he has a dream. To help him in his business expansions, he has included his children, 20-year-old Sarthak and 25-year-old Akansha as they also want to chip in. 

“Europe has a big market. It’s difficult because some of the former players now created their own brand. We are one of the leaders in Indian market. But my children want to expand Rakshak. They are young and want do explore,” he added.

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