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TALKING HEADS Nidhi Gupta: `Finding and fostering young and emerging talent is the major goal'
TALKING HEADS Nidhi Gupta: `Finding and fostering young and emerging talent is the major goal'

Nidhi Gupta quit her job as an engineer to nurture young sporting talent through the Go Sports Foundation

For most budding sports persons, in their initial days the only people who believe in them are their parents. If support is not forthcoming from parents, many talented youngsters tend to lose interest and focus. The lack of sporting infrastructure also forces many to shelve their dreams of making it big in sports. Many organisations have emerged that aim at nurturing and fine-tuning young talent. One of these is Go Sports Foundation, which aims at providing a helping hand to youngsters in the initial stages of their career

“We support youngsters, who show potential and talent in sports, says Nidhi Gupta, Programme Director of the Go Sports Foundation. “We offer scholarships, which includes monetary and technical assistance. They are also provided a great deal of guidance by experts to put them on the road to success.”

Nidhi shifted careers, dropping a job as an engineer to take up the cause of social engineering in sports.

She adds, “Finding and fostering young and emerging talent is the major goal. We aim at helping those talented youngsters, who face financial problems and are part of families unable to sustain their sporting pursuits. We invite applications and also take the opinion of our panel of experts. A degree of background checks is also initiated. We do not follow any rigid parameters as far as selection of candidates is concerned.” GSF recently supported Sourav Saha, a promising young swimmer from Kolkata.

“He came from a poor family and despite the financial hardships managed to bag a gold in the 200 m butterfly event at the junior National championships. We invited him to Bangalore and took the opinion of National coach, Nihar Ameen and took him on board. He has tremendous potential.''

GSF monitors the progress of its wards on a quarter-yearly basis and at the end of the year, takes a decision on whether to continue with the scholarships and other facilities.

Another candidate who has received the support of the foundation has been Namit Bahadur, who won a bronze in the AIBA National Youth boxing championship. The foundation also supports Olympian Sandeep Sejwal, one of the nation's best breast stroke swimmers and physically-challenged swimmer, Prasanta Karmakar, who won a clutch of medals at the IWAS Games held in Bangalore recently. In September this year, GSF conducted a path-breaking study on ‘Drop Out' in sports. The survey revealed that most youngsters quit by the time they turned 21, often considered as the period when a person's sporting skills are at the acme.

Apart from financial issues, systemic factors like lack of government support, lack of infrastructure, absence of good coaches and performance-related factors such as lack of motivation and physical factors such as burn out and injuries are also responsible for these high dropout rates in sports.

“This issue needs to be debated seriously. We plan to reach a larger audience and have a national debate on a major TV network with eminent panellists on this issue,” says Nidhi.

Nidhi blames the laidback and unprofessional attitude of Indian sports administrators as a major factor responsible for the mess. “I wish there is sincerity of purpose and people would serve the cause of sports.”

Go Sports Foundation can be contacted at www.gosports.in/gofoundation. Call 42048046.

KALYAN ASHOK

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