Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore assures all champions of support

Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the focus on the Khelo India Youth Games and schemes like TOPS will not restrain the ministry or SAI from lending support.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore spoke about the plans in the pipeline, including a talent hunt programme for eight-year-old boys and girls across the country with a target of reaching out to about one crore youngsters.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Olympic silver medallist and Union sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has given an assurance that the focus on the Khelo India Youth Games and schemes like the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) will not restrain the ministry or the Sports Authority of India from lending support to genuine champions who may not be covered in any way.

“We will bridge the gap to ensure whatever support the government can provide reaches the genuine champions,” Rathore said in an interaction with The Hindu in New Delhi on Sunday, even as he pointed at the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) and the welfare funds that were being granted to those in need.

Rathore was happy to mention the inclusion of tennis and table tennis to make it 18 disciplines at the Khelo India Youth Games.

“We had to be careful while expanding the event. If the number of athletes goes over 10,000, it will be tough to put them in hotels, etc. Now we have the top six from the inter-state. We may restrict it to top four in future. It is a challenge for us,” he said.

Rathore also spoke about the plans in the pipeline, including a talent hunt programme for eight-year-old boys and girls across the country with a target of reaching out to about one crore youngsters.

“From one crore, we will screen the kids to about 20,000. Thereafter, after a lot of further tests like IQ test, DNA test, etc., the number will be brought down to 5,000 and eventually to 1,000. These kids will be supported for eight years. By 16, they would have reached international standards,” he said.

Television plays a huge role in the promotion of sports, and Rathore said that with 100 hours of live coverage on the various platforms of Star Sports, Indian youth at the grassroots level will progress fast to a higher standard.

Rathore stressed that playing was not just for excellence or entertainment, but was key to building the country in a better way.