Sportstar hosted the first-ever West Sports Conclave on Saturday in Ahmedabad, where a host of speakers from different sports disciplines identified vexing issues in the region and ways to better the playing conditions.
"I am much pleased to learn that "Sportstar West Sports Conclave Focus Gujarat" is being organized by Sportstar at Ahmedabad. I am delighted to learn that the Conclave is being held as a precursor to the National Games," was Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel's message.
Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI’s first Chief Administrative Officer, spoke on the need for a contract system for domestic players. "The first-class contracts will happen one day but the modalities of it perhaps need to be worked out by players from each state. You need their input," Shetty said during a panel discussion.
"The international contracts of Indian cricketers began in the Sri Lanka tour of 1997 when someone like Debasis Mohanty was getting the same match fee as Sachin Tendulkar. We met with Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga, and we found out they have a fixed grade system, which we presented to BCCI, as a report, on our return from Sri Lanka. Sachin, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and I were some of the first people to start the negotiations for an annual contract and it got implemented in 2004."
Shishir Hattangadi, former Mumbai player, feels while there is money in the Associations, "differentiating between a player who is young and doing well and one who has played for a very long time is a challenge because there is no yardstick." But former India international Parthiv Patel feels "players are being taken care of. It is not that player contracts are the only thing. Money is being spent.”
Meanwhile, swimmer Maana Patel, a multiple medal winner at the South Asian Games, believes Gujarat can finish in the ‘top five’ at the 36th National Games. "This time, we can expect a lot of medals from swimmers. We have a very good relay team as well, and I’m participating in five individual events and two relays later, and I’m hoping to win a medal in each of the five events," Maana said.
In another discussion on public-private partnerships for sports welfare, Manisha Malhotra, the head of sports excellence and security, at JSW Sports, said, "Each training centre should have more accountable benchmarks. I feel the training centres we have do not give the results they were earmarked to do. I think it is time for the government to open the doors to the corporates and make it a much larger movement."
Elsewhere, during a conversation about reviving the sporting legacy of Western India, nine-time national `badminton champion Aparna Popat said: "The competition should not be on how many medals have athletes won, but it should be rather on how much a state invested in the development of its athletes.”
M. M. Somaya, Olympic hockey gold medallist, underlined the importance of scientific research. "The most prominent example is 3000m Steeplechase specialist Avinash Sable," he said.
“(Sable put up) one of the best performances by an Indian athlete; beat Kenyans at their own game. The root of his success has been scientific training , and he has got it through the Army Institute in Pune, something even the hockey team has taken advantage of. That is important for the development of sports.”
There was also a discussion on how to best utilise the sports potential of Gujarat. Manasi Joshi, Asian Para Games medallist, Bhavina Patel, Paralympic medallist, Ankita Raina, Indian tennis player and Ashwani Singh, the principal secretary to the Gujarat government in the sports, youth & cultural activities department shared their views.
Meanwhile, former world snooker and billiards champion and founder, Olympic Gold Quest, Geet Sethi shared his views on alternate careers in sports. “Professionalism in sport was required 30 years ago, it is required now more than ever. I personally believe that an entire ecosystem in our country, starting from political will, the hunger of the athlete, the desire of athletes not to just wanting to go there and win an Olympic medal, but an Olympic gold medal - along with infrastructure development and the kind of support systems they have through NGOs, the TOPS, SAI everything is merging together and we are at an invention point,” Sethi said. Professor Isaac Jacob (Professor Emeritus at K J Somaiya Institute of Management) was also part of the panel.
Other attendees included sports administrator and industrialist, Parimal Nathwani, Ashwani Kumar, the principal secretary to the Gujarat government in sports, Devendrasingh Solanki, president of Gujarat Olympic Association. Nathwani extolled the grandeur of the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. "Narendra bhai wanted the capacity of the new venue to be more than 1 lakh! It was his vision that we implemented," he said.
Ashwani for his part said that the state will come up with a policy for para sports soon, benefitting the likes of Bhavina Devi and Manasi Joshi.
Ashwani also said the 36th National Games happening in Gujarat will boost the sports ecosystem in the state. About 14,500 people including 7415 athletes will participate in the 36th National Games being conducted across six cities of Gujarat. "Gujarat government has rolled out Sports policy and incentives for sports manufacturers in line with the other industries."
Tasnim Mir and Mukund Parmar were honoured with Emerging Hero and Hero Unsung Champion awards, respectively. Pradip Parmar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of Gujarat, was in attendance to present the awards.
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, Indian Oil, Shiv Naresh, Stag International, SBI and LIC.