India to focus on sports infrastructure to tap talents

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India Ministry of Youth Affairs

India is home to some of the largest stadiums in the world. Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal state, alone is home to the 120,000-seater Salt Lake Stadium (the second largest football stadium in the world) and the 85,000-seater Eden Gardens (the second largest cricket stadium in the world).

Besides there are a number of multi-purpose and cricket stadiums with seating capacity ranging between 40,000 and 80,000 spread across the country. Not surprising in a nation of over one billion.

While most of these stadiums are in major cities and urban centres run essentially by the government and organised sports body, there remains a huge vaccum in small towns and rural areas, considering a vast majority (nearly 65%) of the Indian population still live in the villages and countryside.


Rural vision

In an effort to tap the potential of the rural youth and join the ranks of the top 10 Olympic nations by year 2020, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has set in motion a new scheme titled ‘Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan’ (Rajiv Gandhi Sports Campaign), or RGKA, to power sports infrastructures in villages and small towns in the country.

“We are aiming at bagging 20 medals in the 2016 Olympics and by 2020 we want to be in the top 10 of Olympic power houses. We won six medals in 2012 London Olympics and we have set a modest target for the next Olympics,” says G S G Ayyangar, Join Secretary (Development), Department of Sports at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

The RGKA envisages construction of sports complexes in about 7,000 blocks in the country with a total outlay of Rs135 billion ($2.25 billion). The Sports Ministry would provide Rs1.5 million ($24,900) for sports infrastructure and Rs150,000 ($2,490) for furniture apart from providing a monthly stipend of Rs3,500 ($58) for master trainers.

“The District Collectors would be the nodal officers in implementing the scheme. The complex could be built in an area of 10 acres. We are giving Rs1 million ($16,200) for each acre to develop the facilities,’’ Ayyangar elaborated.


Mission 2014

In urban areas, the Ministry is funding construction of sports complexes under the Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS). This scheme aims at construction of synthetic playing surface for hockey, football and athletics; and multi-purpose indoor hall. The scheme also offers financial assistance to state governments, local civic bodies, schools, colleges and universities to develop sports facilities.

In October last year, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organised an event entitled ‘India Sports 2014’ with an aim to promote sports amongst the youth in India, last October.

The event, supported by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), served as a platform for the Indian sports industry to showcase their strength and act as a catalyst in promoting sports amongst the youth.

On the occasion two reports, ‘Best 25 Ideas for Sports Start-up Business in India’ and ‘Vision 2014: Sector Skills Council, Way Forward’ were released.


Nurturing talents

At the sports summit, Ayyangar spelt out the details of the ‘scheme for identifying and nurturing sports talent’.

Under the scheme, which has been taken up on a pilot basis, talents would be scouted and selected from the present RGKA annual competitions. These sportspersons will be called Young Talent (YT) and they will be specially trained by Physical Education Teachers attached to every District Level Sports Centre.

A District Sports School (DLSS) will be set up in every district in the country in the next ten years. Ayyangar said that the Ministry will supervise the training in sports and provide the sports scholarships and the recurring expenses.

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