Sports minister Anurag Thakur on Monday stressed the need to promote and back women athletes in India during his keynote address at Sportstar’s National Sports Conclave in New Delhi on Monday.
“On March 10, we launched Khelo India 10 Ka Dum for empowering women through sports. Women’s Day was on the 8th of March, but we couldn’t launch that day due to Holi. We organised this across 50 cities in the country, and more than 1500 women participated in 10 sports. This initiative is not a one-off initiative.
“In the past 18 months, we have launched Khelo India leagues for women across sports and have seen tremendous success. I think the WPL (Women’s Premier League) 2023 was extremely successful. It has opened the gates for many organisations that might be thinking about whether to start a league for women or not. There are a lot of takers for women athletes in the country,” Thakur said.
Thakur also touched upon the Central Government’s effort to ameliorate playing conditions in the country. “PM (Narendra) Modi is a sports lover. Since the Khelo India scheme was launched in 2017, we have developed a three-tier pyramid structure for coaching and training athletes in the country. At the bottom of the country, will be the Khelo India athletes who will train at the various centres set up by SAI,” he said.
“We have close to 7998 athletes training in about 34 disciplines at our centres. And we provide support to 3000 Khelo India athletes. These athletes are chosen by the talent identification and development committee. We also looked at Khelo India, Khelo India Youth Games and Khelo India University Games and the National Games to pick upcoming players and athletes. We don’t just choose them. We look to polish them. The expenditure on each athlete is Rs 6, 28,000. There are still many areas to look at. Sports is a state subject, and the state has to play a very important role.
“The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has seen a manifold increase in its budget. From a mere Rs 466 crore in 2004-2005, we have Rs 3397.32 crore in the financial year 2023-2024. We have sanctioned more than 3000 crore rupees in the past five years for 280+ infrastructure projects in 36 states wherein we are building multipurpose sports complexes, indoor halls, synthetic athletic tracks, hockey astro turfs and mini stadiums etc. We will build 1000 Khelo India centres to focus on talent identification at the grassroots level before August 15, 2023. We are successfully hosting the G20 Presidency right now, and I’m sure we will be fully equipped to host the future Olympics in India soon. We are keen to host and will make sure we have a successful bid.”
Thakur also lauded Sportstar for being at the forefront of multi-sport coverage for more than four decades. “We have a magazine that began as a print-only multisport back in 1978, and it has evolved to still be India’s premium sporting magazine. I still remember my playing days when I used to buy the Sportstar every week, and the major attraction for me at that time was the middle page which had a glossy poster kind of paper that I used to take out and put up on my cupboard,” he said.
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, ONGC, Jain University, Vajiram & Ravi, Institute for IAS Examination, Cric HQ, ShivNaresh and News X.
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