Shoring up sports

Shoring up sports

In a welcome breather, a Union Minister has come up with viable solutions to improve standards across the sports firmament and also help streamline the system. 

In a welcome breather, a Union Minister has come up with viable solutions to improve standards across the sports firmament and also help streamline the system.

Although belated, the suggestions hold validity as they go beyond the normal ‘Vision 2020’ gibberish the policy-makers are notorious for drumming up from time to time.

Perhaps, his being a champion sportsperson – and one who has been there and seen that – is what makes people take note of the observations made by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

Clearly, he is thinking out of the box and talking in a tone that goes well with the sports fraternity. By urging State Federations to identify at least 50 gifted athletes, he has set the ball rolling in a positive manner in the sense that each State unit will vie with the other to produce the best of the lot who can don the national colours.

A more appreciable suggestion made by the silver medal winning shooter is in exhorting Arjuna awardees to come together and help build a band of outstanding sportspersons who could sustain peak form and perform to optimal levels in Tokyo 2020.

That is a fair-enough judgement as the veterans have an idea of the standards prevalent abroad and also the state-of-affairs in India. But then that is precisely where the problems could surface, once such a move takes off.

Of course, certain pointers he has made have been spoken more like a seasoned politician and less like a former athlete.

“We don't need excessive amount of funds but the willpower and concerted efforts to go about the job,” lacks substance.

It is preposterous because one’s passion to excel won’t get translated unless there is State or sponsor support. If the Union Minister feels that there is no need for funds then it is almost like one can forget dreaming.

A mere Target Olympic Podium (TOP) programme will fetch nothing. He should understand that it is because of entities like Olympic Gold Quest and some sponsors that the talented lot is able to hone skills, get overseas exposure and bring glory to the nation.

In his overriding observation that the country needs to evolve a workable system whereupon professionalising of operations will be the order the day,

Rathore has hit the right chords but the fundamental question is who will take care of the monetary requirements of the youngsters who, because of economic compulsions, shun their chosen field, more out of frustration and less out of any loss of interest.

It is these athletes who need to be nurtured and be provided with ample avenues so that they can emerge as the nest Dipa Karmakars and Sakshi Maliks.

The one point where the Olympian has been forthright has been in calling for evolving a strategy whereby a sports culture is set in motion at the school level and thereupon bringing in a vibrant club culture.

By all accounts, this is the lacuna that needs to be addressed on a priority basis. The moot point is can Rathore take the lead in inspiring such pro-sports and practically grounded measure?

This is where willpower is required if India has to make any meaningful headway in Olympics.

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