K. MURLIDAR

Will the new Sports Minister do something to raise prospects for other games too?

The IPL cricket mania across the country is over. Every sports lover in India was glued to the TV sets to watch some of the finest actions of overseas as well as fringe players for over a month. It was interesting to see the intense battle from all the participating teams. The event gave immense opportunities to players like Asnodkar, Kholi, Yusuf Pathan, Badrinath and Dhawan to exhibit their true potential whether they make it to the India XI or not. The mega extravaganza must have helped them to pocket hefty prize money and organisers must have earned in millions signifying the commercial interest in the championship. The country has conveniently forgotten the rest of the sports and total attention has once again shifted to cricket. Will the new sports minister do something to spruce up the prospects of other games too?

Past performances

Not many of the present generation would know that India had even entered the quarterfinals of the Olympics football once upon a time. India had produced some of the all-time greats like Milkha Singh, Dhyan Chand, Vijayan and P.T. Usha in different sports. But, now other than cricket and tennis, no game gets as much attention as it deserves. From being the supreme power in hockey, we are now fighting to qualify for major tournaments. Who is responsible for this dismal state of affairs in sports? It is high time the government gave serious thought to revive the fortunes of other sports with some initiatives.

Lack of proper system

It is a fact that we have immense potential to excel in any sports but quite unfortunately we do not have a proper system to develop our resources. First, we have to evolve a three-tier system that would enable developing the resources from school. As is happening in other countries, the process should start right from the school level. Sports should be integrated with regular school curriculum and there should be a sports body in every district to identify potential children under different discipline and they should be given adequate and quality training. There should be more number of district level tournaments at regular intervals to improve the standard of trainees. The second tier would be District level and those successful at District level would come under this category. The final one is State category and the players would qualify for being the part of State team. The training and development should be a continuous process at all the three levels so that performers would continue to emerge at all age groups.This system may be good enough to spot and groom potential sports personnel but if the parents are not interested, what can be done?

But not many parents wish their children to take up sports as their profession as it would never offer a definitive source of livelihood at a later date. Again not all sports offer a viable source of income except cricket where one can mint money as long as he is playing.

Funding issues

At present, it is only the government PSUs, Banks and Petroleum offer employment to sportspersons. Private companies may endorse players in their commercials but hardly offer any permanent employment. They too should come forward to accommodate sportspersons in their companies. Because, mere honours and medals would do no good to players as they would remain in the limelight only when they are active and successful. I have read that our ace swimmer Kutraleeswaran is now actively pursuing his studies and has given up swimming in the absence of continuous support and lucrative career.

In our country, sports is a State subject and the funding for this is neither allocated nor spent properly. The Central government should make adequate budgetary provision for each State and a monitoring mechanism be set up to oversee the progress made. There should be no hesitation to spend on hiring good coaches to train all players.

If such sincere efforts are made, players with world class calibre can be groomed and India can expect to excel in different disciplines other than cricket also.

k.murlidar@mail.com

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