Khelo India to focus on infrastructure

The Ministry plans to organise quality national level competitions for schools and universities. To begin with a National School Games with close to 10,000 participants is on anvil early next year.

Universities, once known for supplying the cream of sportsmen for international competitions, would command a huge space in the new plan. (Representative Image)   -  C.V. Subrahmanyam

Focus on development of infrastructure in school and universities is among the priorities of an ambitious scheme drawn by the Union Sports Ministry to give a push to sports promotion in the country.

Part of the Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports – the move is expected to bring about a collective thrust as far as tapping the talent is concerned. The Play Field Development is an objective to prepare a National inventory of play fields and sports infrastructure on a Geographic Information System to ensure optimum utilisation.

According to a Sports Ministry official, lack of infrastructure has been a constant deterrent in organising large scale programmes for promotion of sports at the junior level. “We would identify the sports fields and protect them so that they are available at the community level too. There would be proper funding for upkeep of these play fields which are bound to attract the youth to take to sports in a big way,” the official said.

Universities, once known for supplying the cream of sportsmen for international competitions, would command a huge space in the new plan. “We are going to identify 20 Universities and term them fields of excellence. These would actually be hubs of activities in universities having a strong sports orientation and significant sporting achievements. Such sporting excellence centres would be beneficial for those looking for a career in sports. The emphasis would be on sports backed by academics so that they don't have to worry about security in the future,” the official added.

The Ministry also plans to organise quality national level competitions for schools and universities. To begin with a National School Games with close to 10,000 participants is on anvil early next year. “Talent would be identified and provided with extensive support at the next level (University) so that there the would-be-champions are not lost. An annual competition would also be held at the University level,” the official drew a positive picture.

Coaching has been a neglected area in India and the programme will invest in promoting the quality over the next few years. “It is a priority because you can't get champions without proper coaching. A Community Coaching Development drive will identify master trainers who will pass on the knowledge to coaches at the lower level. Even aspiring volunteers can join these online courses,” the official stressed.

The scheme, which provides support to persons with disabilities too, is awaiting Cabinet approval.