Rathore lights up Parliament, discusses changing sports scenario in India

Former Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore highlighted how sports is no more a low priority in schools and colleges.

FILE PHOTO: Former Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore highlighted how sports is no more a low priority in schools and colleges.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Former Union Sports Minister and ace shooter, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, on Thursday, drew the Parliament's attention to the changing sporting scenario in India.

Speaking in Lok Sabha at a discussion under Rule 193 on the need to promote sports in India and steps taken by the Government in this regard, the 2004 Athens Olympics silver medallist, who is a BJP Member of Parliament from Rajasthan, pointed out the steps taken in the last eight years.

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The nation, Rathore said, had come a long way from the days when sports were a low priority in schools and colleges. “There was hardly any encouragement at home. But things changed in 2014 with the interest shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He laid emphasis on the fitness, health, and character of sportspersons. There was a huge thrust to provide facilities from the grassroots level to the apex. I have been through it. The silver I got at Athens did not receive the national attention that winners get today. The Prime Minister meets and greets the sportspersons before and after the event, regardless of their achievements. We would carry food packets from India because we did not have the allowances in my time. All that has changed now.”

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From travelling in unreserved compartments in trains, sportspersons are now given facilities to fly and stay in four-star accommodation, he said. “There are scholarships to 5,000 talented youngsters now. A monthly stipend of Rs 50,000 is given to the elite members of the TOPS each month. The training facilities have improved amazingly. The Government has adopted private academies and set up National excellence centres. Former players are being employed as coaches at decent salary and the emphasis is on scientific training.”

Rathore applauded the steps taken by Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha to encourage sports. “They have introduced policies for youth where sports play a major role. Sportspersons are being recognised for their feats and are no more treated as second-class citizens.”

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