‘Athlete will assume centre-stage always’September 22, 2017
Union Sports Minister unveils master-plan to make India a sporting powerhouse
Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore spoke about the ambitious Khelo India School Games project and his plans to utilise modern technology to reach out to youngsters in far-flung corners of the country in a chat with The Hindu . Excerpts.
What are the immediate steps that you have in mind?
Schemes are made but execution is very important. The spirit should not be lost. I am grateful that the Prime Minister is focussing on the youth.
Do you see any new developments from the time you were looking to take to sports?
There is a lot of awareness coming in now about fitness, diet. It’s not just an urban phenomenon any more. The number of youth who want to play is also increasingly phenomenally.
How do you propose to maximise that surge?
We are carrying out a physical fitness drive wherein, along with HRD Ministry and the Health Ministry, we are covering all the schools and mapping children (between the age 10 to 18) for their physical abilities. This will be done every year.
How is this process going to help?
It leads to the biggest school event in the country. Sadly, today there is no school event worth its name. A standard has to be set at the school levels that if you played the Khelo India School Games (KISG) means you have reached the level expected in schools.
What is the highlight of the KISG scheme?
To create the best ever school tournament (under-17) wherein the best of the NSFs come, the best of the SAI academies and the best of the schools come and they compete in an environment where the technical facilities are absolutely world class. We will follow it up with a college level games.
What other steps do you have in mind?
From next year we will invite athletes from all over the world to come and compete with our youth right at the school level.
How about the infrastructure?
We are overhauling the system from the first step of attitude to the final one of delivery wherein the athlete takes centre-stage always. Every thing will be centred around the athlete.
Would you elaborate?
We will map all the sports fields in the country on an IT-based infrastructure. You can check how far you are from the nearest tennis court or basketball court and how you can access it. The idea is to utilise to the optimum the sports facilities available.
How do you propose to utilise modern technology to improve our sports?
We will identify talent in a democratic manner through our sports portal. Anyone can post the achievements or recommend someone. This portal and the KISG would work to find talent. We want to identify 1000 athletes and provide them continuous support for eight years worth Rs. 5 lakh per athlete each year. Every year we will add 1000 athletes to this list. Non performers would be weeded out.
How will you reach out to the millions of young athletes and make them aware of your plans?
We are launching a mobile application for each and every sport. We will start with the priority sports. From the application you would know the rules in an interesting and animated video and also area dimensions of the sport. It has got Cabinet approval and I invite people who can help us develop this application.
How are you going to introduce professionalism and accountability?
Sports will soon be made a compulsory subject in education. Which means education of sports is important. Lessons on fitness, diet, sports would be taught in schools.