Will Sports in India finally get its due under Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore?

Diptanil Roy

September 22nd, 2017 / 6:10 PM

Image: Indian Express

India is on the cusp of a major sporting overhaul as attention the turns from infrastructure development to an all-round growth of athletes after the Government approves a 1756 crore project for the revamped ‘Khelo India’ project.

Back in March 2017, reports of a scheme called Khelo India-National Programme for Development of Sports was being implemented by the ministry as a central project from the current financial year. The then Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel said that among other things the scheme would primarily focus on the creation of sports infrastructure that would include synthetic athletic tracks, hockey fields, artificial football turf ground, multipurpose hall and various other facilities. The scheme was going to be implemented country-wide and would provide a platform for a talented lot of young India to practice their game by using world-class facilities.

Unfortunately, in a major cabinet reshuffle in September, saw Vijay Goel replaced by ex-Olympic ace shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. The Jaisalmer born 47-year old is best known for his exploits in the 2004 Athens Olympics where he won a silver medal for India in Men’s double trap. Rathore’s first action as India’s new minister of state for Youth Affairs and Sports saw him revamp and get the Khelo India programme.

In his interview, Rathore stressed the importance of winning medals at all levels. “Win medals at all levels — village level or at the Olympic level. Sports is a state subject so we will work together with the state departments to provide, like I said, best of the opportunities for the sportspersons,” Rathore said.

Initial changes in the ministry seem to be underway after Rathore took over as Sports Minister.Hindustan Times

The ace shooter added, “The most important thing is that the sportsman only has one challenge and that is to overcome adversaries and enhance the level of their sports.

“Also the youth, not just in sports, but also in their personality development because that’s the essence of the youth ministry.”
Keeping in mind his planned course of action, Rathore saw it best fit to shift the paradigm from infrastructure development to all-around growth of athletes.

“A holistic approach has to be taken, and there will be a seamless network which will enable a pathway from schools to Olympics,” Rathore said. “In the age group of 10 to 18, health and education will be mapped, and schools will be graded. Sports facilities will also be planned with geographical location. Sports and education will be mixed.”

The programme will be promoting 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence which would provide the talented sportspersons with the dual pathway of education and competitive sports. Rathore said that his team is also working on a sports-specific mobile app that will have relevant information and it will be launched for free soon for young athletes to build up their game and take a wider interest in the competition’s global perspective.

“The Apps will have tips for athletes and information on Indian and international athletes.” said Rathore.

The 2003 Sydney World Championship silver medalist remarked that the standard of coaching would have to improve as well as “best is required, good is not enough”. He has assured that under this scheme efforts will be taken to upgrade and educate coaches even at the community level.

The programme will be focusing on athletes as their primary concern and will make an amount of 5 lakhs each available to 1000 selected athletes for eight years. This shift in focus comes as a welcome move for many sportspersons in a country where the biggest adversary to their sports career is the monetary resources to pursue it.

More than half the state-level players move on to Government jobs without seriously pursuing their career simply to feed themselves and their family on a day-to-day basis. The new scheme will allow the young athletes to change their perspective of what sports are and give them courage and a platform to pursue it as a profession rather than a source for a Government desk job in the future.

Rathore’s take on not just developing athletes but shaping youth personalities will be best taken forward by the revamped Khelo India programme. India is a country of 1.3 billion. If the resources are used with great care and measure, producing a contingent of 130 world class Olympic athletes would mean we need to convert a 0.0000001% of our population into professional athletes. Let us hope Khelo India can help us in shaping a great future of global sporting dominance for India.


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