NEW DELHI: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Monday announced their ambitious plan to hold the biennial National Club Games from next year.

The IOA, FICCI and several state Olympic associations met here to devise a mechanism to take sports to villages and panchayats.

The first ever National Club Games, the foundation for which was an MoU signed between the two organisations during the 2008 Youth Commonwealth Games in Pune, will be held in Uttarakhand in May next year.

“We have a target of touching 8,00,000 clubs by 2016. This will ensure an estimated participation of six crore people. If we take into account the involvement of their families, then it will cover 25 per cent of the population,” IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh told reporters.

“This will become the base for the Olympic movement in the country,” he added.

To start with, the Games — nurturing the motto of ‘Let’s play’ — will feature seven sports for men and three for women. The men’s sports will be volleyball, basketball, football, hockey, kabaddi, handball and kho-kho while the women’s events will be hockey, kabaddi and kho-kho. None of the sports will be played on synthetic tracks.

“As the Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia, I want kho-kho to be included in the Asian Games in future. This was the reason for keeping kho-kho in the list. Individual sports will be included later,” Randhir said.

The Games will be conducted at the state-level in December, zonal in February before the National event is held in May.

Brushing aside apprehensions that the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) launched by the Sports Ministry would come in the way of the National Club Games, Randhir said, “Rather the two will complement each other. PYKKA is to create infrastructure while this is to take sports to the grassroots level.”

Speaking on the corporate support, Atul Singh, FICCI Sports Committee Chairman, said FICCI would provide the prize money apart from giving Rs. 5 lakh as ‘seed money’ to each state.

He hoped that the initiative would give a platform to create professional sportspersons. — Sports Reporter

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