He takes pride in heading what he terms the sporting state of India. Sports promotion comes naturally to Bhupinder Singh Hooda. He cannot miss his daily tennis routine at the Delhi Gymkhana courts. He has been a regular at the Wimbledon for years. “I am a sportsman,” he declares in a chat with The Hindu.
For the Haryana Chief Minister, sport is sign of development and he is determined to introduce the Right To Play Act and make his State a model in sports promotion.
What is the basis of your sports policy in Haryana?
There are basically three ingredients in my sports policy. I aim to create infrastructure even at the block level, hunt for talent by involving the parents and propagate the belief that a child should pursue at least one sport. I am 65 and I still play (tennis and badminton). I also want to make every child’s future ensured. I ask the sportsman to get medal and earn a post (job). We insist on inclusive development in Haryana.
Can you highlight the sports programmes
At block level we are building 224 Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Khel Parisars, each on an area of six acres with outdoor and indoor facilities for 10 to 12 disciplines. Over 224 villages have mini stadiums constructed over an area of four acres each. We have been setting up Panchayat Yuva Krida and Khel Abhiyan centres since 2009 in 619 schools, providing sports equipment. By now we have covered 2,400 school. The State has nine swimming pools, five hockey Astroturf fields and three synthetic athletic tracks.
How different are you from other States in sports promotion?
For the Olympics, we gave Rs. 11 lakh each to the Haryana players for preparation. In 2004 we had three from Haryana, in 2008 we had six and now we have 18 in London.
Haryana has arguably the best playground-population ratio in the country. At district headquarters we have state-of-art sports complexes that have facilities for more than 12 disciplines.
Haryana has a SPAT programme. What is so special about it?
Sports and Physical Aptitude Test (SPAT) is a talent hunt programme. We look at kids in the 8-19 category. This year more than two lakh children took part in this venture. The State will adopt schools with average SPAT score of 75 per cent and fund their sporting requirements. From 1606 children in 2010, over 12000 have scored over 75 percent in SPAT this year.
We give performance-linked scholarships of Rs. 1500 per month for age group 8-14 and Rs. 2,000 per month for 14-19. But you have to come to the ground 22 days in a month. Youth is future of the country. Elders have made sacrifices for the country… I want the children to remember that and take the nation forward.
Can you tell us about the Right To Play Act that you plan to have soon
We are mulling over the Right To Play Act. We take sports seriously and through this Act we want all stakeholders in sports in private as well as government domain to be made accountable to the people in regard to delivery of sports-related commitments. We have an Ombudsman in mind to deal with wilful negligence and deficient services.
What role do you see for corporate sector in promotion of sports?
Thanks to SPAT, we have an over 10-million reach. We would like to offload the event management part to some willing corporate sector in exchange of brand association. Sport in Haryana is no longer a government-delivered service. It is now demand-driven from the actual end-users, the players themselves. All decisions regarding sports are taken by the government keeping in mind the best interest of the players.
Through our Direct To Athlete approach we are enabling our players to raise their level and ensure for themselves a good life.