Junior, senior athletes, trainees at SAI to have equal diet budget

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju made the announcement after having a meal at the athletes mess at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.

Kiren Rijiju interacted with players and coaches as he surveyed the ongoing camp and training process at NIS Patiala.

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday announced that the diet budget of Sports Authority of India trainees, senior and junior athletes will be increased to bring parity among the three categories.

Earlier, the diet budget for SAI trainees, junior athletes and senior athletes was ₹250, ₹480 and ₹690, respectively, but Rijiju has decided to make the amounts equal.

Speaking about his decision, Rijiju said, “While having my meal at the athletes mess (at the National Institute of Sports) in Patiala, I noticed that senior and junior athletes and SAI trainees have different diets since the food budget for each section is different.

“However, diet is key for the success of a sportsperson and no child can become a world champion with an inadequate diet. The diet of an athlete should not depend on the level at which he or she is playing, but on the need of the athelete as per recommendation of coaches and nutritionists, budget cannot be the deciding factor while planning an athlete’s diet.”

“I have therefore decided that going forward, there will be no discrepancy in the food budget of athletes who are training at SAI centres,” said the minister after having breakfast at the women’s hostel at NIS Patiala.

Rijiju visited the mess and the kitchen to take a first-hand report of the quality of food and the way it is prepared for the athletes. He has gave an assurance that the kitchens at all SAI centres will be modified and made state of the art to ensure that the nutritional value of food is not lost.

The minister also announced that besides food, supplements required by athletes, as per prescriptions, will be made available without delay.

The move will impact 12,500 athletes training in various SAI centres, and the sports ministry will release an additional amount to ₹150 crore annually to fund the new diet budget.

During his visit, Rijiju met athletes from various sporting disciplines like volleyball, boxing, athletics and weightlighting, and spoke to them and their coaches at length. He enquired about the quality of food served, training regimes and requirements for added facilities and infrastructure.

Asking the athletes to reach out to him with issues that need attention, Rijiju assured them that their immediate requirements would be catered to within two or three months.

“India is an emerging $5 trillion economy, and necessary funds will be managed. We are committed to use funds wherever needed. All athletes will be given all requisite facilities to train well and bring medals for the country,”: he said..

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