Rathore: Khelo India to bridge gap between potential and podium

Col. Rathore emphasised that the central government was doing a lot more and hinted at the responsibility of the state governments and the national federations to promote sports in a big way.

Union Sports Minister Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore with the Managing Director of Star India, Sanjay Gupta, in New Delhi on Monday.   -  Special Arrangement

The Union Sports Minister Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that Khelo India Games was a movement to create an awareness of the importance of sports in the country, but cannot be an answer to all that ails Indian sports.

Talking in detail about the plans to host the Games in the best possible way from January 31 to February 8, and telecast it live through Star Sports, Col. Rathore emphasised that the central government was doing a lot more and hinted at the responsibility of the state governments and the national federations to promote sports in a big way.

While the Managing Director of Star India, Sanjay Gupta, talked about the responsibility of taking sports to the 30 crore school children, for a healthy society, Rathore assured that the support to top 5000 youngsters over the next five years would help the nation bridge the
gap between "potential to podium" in a very effective way.

Releasing the anthem for Khelo India Games, featuring many leading sports persons across different disciplines, a fine tweak was made to the old saying, to end as "banoge lajawab", to indicate that one would become an exceptional person by playing sports.

"It is important to change the mind set of people. Children want to play, and it is important to make the parents and teachers to think so," said the Star Sports CEO.

"We cannot be looking at the numbers all the time. It is an investment for the future to create an eco system for sports," said Sanjay Gupta, expressing the strong belief that the seeds of a bright sporting India was being sown through the movement and that future generations would be grateful for the exercise.

"If we don’t start, it may never happen," Sanjay Gupta said, suggesting that India had the potential to have something to match college sport equivalent of America, which is a multi-billion dollar venture.

On his part, Rathore assured that the age group would in due course of time be brought from under-17 so that the youngsters would get a chance when they are under-12 or 14, and get ready to represent the country in a few years time.

"We will set bench marks, and we will create bench strength," declared Rathore.

Thanks to Khelo India, it was perceived that schools would soon be rated for their sporting proficiency, as they are known for their academic excellence now.

The Sports Minister hinted that there would be 12 verticals, School Games, College Games, play field development, community coaching development, State level Khelo India Games, talent search and development, utilisation and creation/upgradation of sports infrastructure, support to national/regional/state sports academies, sports for women, promotion of sports among persons with disabilities, sports for peace and development, promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games.

Col. Rathore emphasised the ability of a half hour of sports teaching life lessons which may otherwise take a very long time to learn, and hoped that soon, when there is debate between having a "park or play ground" in a locality, the latter would win.

Tiger Vijay and blackbuck Jaya would be the mascots for the Games, which would be shown through the day during the Khelo India Games, with highlight packages, capturing the essence of the 16 disciplines, athletics, archery, badminton, basketball, boxing, football,
gymnastics, hockey, judo, kabaddi, kho-kho, shooting, swimming, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling.

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