India’s Olympic medal-winning hockey player Lalit Upadhyay, while attending Sportstar North Sports Conclave in Lucknow on Thursday, said the Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative in insuring the life of athletes ‘has touched his heart’.
The striker has also said that the current government has uplifted the sports infrastructure in the state, and athletes are getting financial rewards and jobs like never before.
Excerpts from the forward at the Conclave:
'UP at par with Punjab, Haryana'
“Development happened previously also, but its progress was slow. I am not saying this to please anybody. The massive development work for sports that the current government has undertaken is evident in the number of medals UP athletes won. UP sports department and sports ministry have been doing great work for the progress of sports. Earlier, when it came to jobs and money for athletes, we used to give examples of Punjab and Haryana. Now, UP is in the same league,” Lalit said.
“After winning medals (in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games), our athletes received huge cash rewards which I feel are much higher than any other states in India. It has never happened before in history. Now, I urge people to learn from UP.”
Infrastructure boost for UP
“We have sports norms, which means sports are now part of the government’s core policy. The government is also uplifting the sports infrastructure in the state.
A sports university is being set up in Meerut, and a new cricket stadium is coming up in Varanasi, so what should I ask for more?
I must tell you that now players have access to modern facilities that we lacked earlier,” he added.
'Sports facilities must be made available in schools'
Lalit also added that sports facilities need to be made available in schools. so that “students, who are not good at studies, can at least pursue sports”. “Parents send their children to school for mid-day meals. Now, if you get food for playing hockey, then you will get more medals from UP,” he said.
Insurance for athletes
“I must tell you that UP athletes won the maximum number of medals at the Commonwealth Games for India this year. What more special is we also won a hockey medal after 40 years (in the Olympics in Tokyo). Another thing, the government is also insuring the life of athletes so that if anybody suffers any injury can avail of the treatment from the insurance. This initiative has touched my heart. I thank the government for taking these initiatives for athletes,” he said.