Age-verification test for Khelo talents before academy entry

Shortlisted athletes will go through the Tanner Whitehouse 3 (TW3) test by which the digital x-ray of the left hand (palm and wrist/lower end of forearm) is taken to determine bone age.

A K Bansal, a former national hockey coach, currently heads the Khelo India Talent Identification Programme.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Five hundred and twenty youngsters among those who competed in the U-17 and U-21 age groups at the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) 2019 have been shortlisted for further training under the Khelo India Programme and age verification is a key part of the follow-up process.

It is an important step for these youngsters, before they get invited to join academies — both government and private — for focused training in their respective sport at the government's expense.

"Majority of those identified belong to the U-17 category, with the numbers being small in the U-21 category," said Dr. A K Bansal, Head of the Khelo India Talent Identification Programme. He was assisted by a team of Talent Scouts, Performance Managers and Project Officers during the KIYG last month, involving inter-state competition in 18 disciplines, conducted in Pune and Mumbai.

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"We are doing the TW3 test to consider age verification. Each boy or girl shortlisted will go through the tests," he explained, referring to the Tanner Whitehouse 3 test by which the digital x-ray of a child’s left hand (palm and wrist/lower end of forearm) is taken to determine bone age.

Maharashtra emerged as the overall winner of the recently concluded KIYG, which had both individual and team sports.

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Bansal, a former national hockey coach, elaborated: "More than 200 players shortlisted in individual sports were put through medical tests in Pune, while those identified for team sport will undergo an assessment for final selection, after which age verification test will be done."

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The next step for U-17 and U-21 boys and girls is to join the Khelo India chosen sport-specific training centres located across India. It is at this point that the Rs 5 lakh per year scholarship scheme, supported by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, kicks in.

He explained that the sports scholars will get Rs 10,000 as out of pocket allowance per month and the Rs 5 lakh is the overall expenditure on each trainee.

"The government has formulated an expenditure of Rs 5 lakh for each selected athlete each year under this scheme.  As per this formulation, we are not giving Rs 5 lakh in cash to any player, rather we are spending on his/her development, via education, academy stay, sports equipment, food, kitting, travelling, training and Rs 10,000 cash for out of pocket allowance."

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Bansal pointed out that the term will start from April 1 once the new education session starts. "More than 80 academies have been chosen, half of them being SAI academies and rest are private as well state government ones. A major pre-condition (for choosing) was that each academy needed to have a tie-up with an education institution, top class facilities for training and scientific back up."

"The scheme is for eight years. A crucial clause is that continuation depends on his/her performance. Regular monitoring will be done to assess if the child is improving as per our expectations.”