Adopt sports, sportsperson, infra: Goel urges corporate

Vijay Goel

Adopt sports disciplines. Adopt sports persons. Adopt sports infrastructure. That is how Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport Vijay Goel would invoke the corporate and industry support to uplift sports’ level in the country.

The best way forward to promote the talent in the country would be well co-ordinated effort in private-public joint initiative. The Union Sports Minister shared his thoughts in a ‘direct’ address to country’s leading corporate and industry bigwigs as he was delivering the inaugural address at CII’s two-day seminar – Making India play. The Sports Minister also release the CII Report – Brand Initiative in Sports; Study on CSR Initiative in Sports. The minister, while sharing various government initiatives with the industry had no qualms in accepting that the Government alone cannot bring in the desired change.

Sports as an industry is at development stage. In a country bereft of sports culture, sustenance and growth remain big challenges for this relatively new industry. A majority of franchisees in the “cash-rich” IPL would struggle to break even after eight years of big investments. For other sports the challenge is bigger. Now, the extremely popular kabaddi had to wait for three years and four seasons to get a title sponsor. Mashal Sports and Star Sport built kabaddi as a sport worth commercial and viewers’ acceptance with tireless efforts and big investments.

Each league, each corporate is faced with the challenges; any new upcoming industry would face. However, unlike other industries there are no special considerations for sports. The Minister agrees the industry supporting sports in the country needs some special consideration. “We are committed to support sport as an industry. Anyone helping sport grow in the country will get special consideration. But, a proposal has to come from them. We have all the intent of supporting the industry,” Mr Goel said responding to a pointed question by

There are schools without play grounds. There is government infrastructure will access to limited talent. There is talent without resources and then there are resources which are lying unused. The Minster, who had grown up “playing in the streets of Walled City in the Capital and been a national level sportsperson himself” is well aware of ground realties. He accepts the fact that governments alone cannot change the situation.

Goel invoked support from the private sector in the pointed specific areas. “The industry give crores of rupees the successful athletes after they reach that grand success. I am saying don’t give them five crore rupees after winning (global events). Make that three crore, but spend the other two crore to help them win these medals. The country has talent, we have infrastructure, you adopt this talent. Adopt sports disciplines. We have infrastructure spreading across the country. You come forward to adopt this infrastructure, maintain it and support the talent in those catchment areas.

Sports needs to be the part of education to identify and nurture the talent at grass roots. Even if the policy were prepared on paper, implementation will be a challenge. “Lakhs of schools are without a playground. Sports can only be made part of education curriculum when you have proper infrastructure. The Ministry though is going to add ‘school sports’ to the concurrent list. The talent earlier would come from schools and universities, but it is not happening anymore,” adds the Minister.

Integration and identification will be the key to growth. There is a proposal to integrate sports activities and competition all school level and university level by brining different competitions under one school or university competition umbrella. “There will be one combined school game for corporation, central or State owned schools. All the talent pool will get one common platform. There are no clash of dates for competitions,” says the Minister.

“We will do pan-India mapping for talent and infrastructure to identify which particular sport can be best developed in which area. We want the maximum utilization of resources with corporate support. Sports Authority of India will support, and is already supporting, the academies like PT Usha’s athletic academy, Pullela Gopichand Academy for Badminton or Marycom’s boxing academy.

“Thousands of sportspersons are coming for trials to get admission in universities. I have asked my ministry to create a database of these youngsters. Whether they get admission in a college or not, they should be supported to continue their sport,” says the Minister.

The Ministry of Sport will soon be launching a portal for talent search. The sportsperson, their coaches or families can upload videos and bio data of the talented players on the website. The Ministry team will evaluate and identify such talent and provide the deserving candidates all the required support. “There will be 1,000 scholarships of 500,000 each to help this talent build up for the 2020 Olympics.”

The plans are big and impressive. There are customary acceptance to the challenges and pledges to “work together in the best interest of sports”. However, the void between white papers, plans and ground realty is massive. The sooner this distance is bridged the better will be the beginning. For now the plans are impressive, vision is good. Doubts on implementation can only be eradicated by the implementation itself.

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