Friday, Oct 18, 2019 | Last Update : 02:51 AM IST

Big boost for sports in Union Budget

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 6, 2019, 2:53 am IST
Updated : Jul 6, 2019, 2:53 am IST

The iconic football striker believes for a desired outcome the efforts must be streamlined from the district level.

Odisha were crowned as the champions in the Under-21 men’s hockey competition of the Khelo India Games.
 Odisha were crowned as the champions in the Under-21 men’s hockey competition of the Khelo India Games.

KOCHI: Presenting her first budget Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday that the government will set up a National Sports Education Board under its flagship Khelo India scheme.

The announcement that proposes to “popularise sports at all levels” was readily acknowledged by prominent sports personalities in the country, though majority of them have urged the government to be proactive in its implementation.

“The government is committed to expand Khelo India scheme and to provide all necessary financial support. To popularise sports at all levels a National Sports Education Board for development of sportspersons would be set up under Khelo India scheme (launched in October 2017),” said the minister in her budget speech.

Former Indian men’s football team captain and politician Baichung Bhutia feels the initiative however impressive requires a massive effort to unify the various stakeholders. “It is definitely a good initiative but at the end of the day in sports what is happening is people are working on their own. Often the federations and sports departments are not unified,” said Bhutia.

The iconic football striker believes for a desired outcome the efforts must be streamlined from the district level.

Bhutia's views were echoed by member of Indian men’s hockey team P.R. Sreejesh, who himself is employed as chief sports organiser with the Kerala government’s Education Department.

While lauding the relevance of the Khelo India scheme and the proposed NSEB, Sreejesh has suggested the ministry should spread the benefits of the project to not just players but grassroots coaches as well.

“If you look at Indian sports, from the top we are doing great, we meet international standards and our coaches are top notch. But in a country like ours we have to ask why are we struggling at events like the Olympics?,” Sreejesh said.

“We bring top quality coaches in various sports but we must also make sure that our domestic coaches are developed to the next level. Only when we have quality coaches at the grassroots level can we identify talents and guide them accordingly,” he added.

Olympic boxer Akhil Kumar, who is also a national observer for the sport, is confident the initiative will not just popularise sports but generate awareness about its benefits.

“Khelo India has been successful and if sport is added with education it will generate a lot of awareness,” said Akhil Kumar, who is employed in the Haryana Police as DSP.

“It will benefit sports as many in India aren’t aware of sports events except big events (like Olympics). Also adding sports with education will promote healthy lifestyle. I am doing duty nowadays and I see lot of crime happens, especially in the evenings, which will go down if youth are engaged in sports,” he added.

Anju Bobby George, India’s first medallist in World Championship in Athletics and former Table Tennis international Kamlesh Mehta were of the opinion that the programme has the potential to nurture Olympians out of obscurity.

“Honestly, this is the only platform that can provide unheralded talents in the country a path to the highest level,” said former long-jumper Anju, who emphasised on the need to have “proper groundwork and sound implementation”.  

Mehta, who stressed on the role played by his school in developing him into a champion athlete, said: “Love for sports starts at school and Olympic champions can be made from there.”

Tags: national sports education board, khelo india scheme