Various sporting events such as walkathon and football tournaments will be held across the country for the first time as part of the National Sports Day celebration on Thursday to commemorate the birth anniversary of Indian hockey legend Dhyan Chand, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said on Tuesday.

FICCI has planned the sports activities in multiple cities throughout India on August 29, with the help of important organizations like Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Authority of India, All India Council of Physical Education, Association of Indian Universities and Asian Football Development Project.

“Plan for the National Sports day celebration was conceived last year. We hope that this would play a pivotal role in overall development and growth of the nation,” said Sanjiv Paul, Chairman of FICCI sports committee.

The government has also approved the programme to spread sports to every corner of the country by creating a nation-wide awareness about the fruitful side of sports.

“We need to build a sports culture in the country. We do not take sports as seriously as the other sporting nation do. Our sports persons do not get the respect that they deserve,” Onkar Kedia, Joint secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said.

“This is probably due to the fact that opportunities to excel in international event is limited because of lack of supportive infrastructure and scientific assistant,” he added.

Mr. Kedia also said that from next year onwards state governments, NGOs and the academic institutions will be involved to create awareness of National Sports day.

FIFA, which sees India as the next big stage for football, has also welcomed this programme.

“I congratulate everyone for coming up with an idea such as this to celebrate the National Sports Day. Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) will work extensively in India for the development of football and sports overall. Also we will initiate football for a social change programme in India,” Prince Ali Bin Hussein, Vice-President, Asia, FIFA, said.

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