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Plans are underway for India to host world-class sporting events: Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur

He appeals to the business community to come forward and adopt a game, an athlete, an academy of their choice and support our athletes.

He appeals to the business community to come forward and adopt a game, an athlete, an academy of their choice and support our athletes.

India achieved unprecedented success at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, winning a record number of medals. In an exclusive for Sportstar, New Delhi, Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister for Youth and Sports, talks about his ministry’s plans to use technology and organize more international events in India to help the country’s athletes in their quest for glory. on the world stage. Extracts:

Top athletes like Neeraj Chopra have suggested the need for regular high profile international fixtures in the country to generate interest. Can we expect India to host the Diamond League and such quality events soon?

The Ministry of Youth and Sports supports the National Sports Federations (FSN) in the conduct of international competitions in the country. We encourage ISCs and NSFs to develop professional capabilities to lead major sports properties here in India. The Indian Open Badminton tournament and the India Open Boxing tournament are good examples. We are also hosting the International Chess Olympiad for the first time and we held the Olympic Torch Relay for the first time in the event’s history, which is a milestone. In October, we will also host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after the huge success of the men’s edition in 2017. India has enough world-class facilities to host world-class events, and in the next few years we plan to become a destination for hosting such events.

Do you think that technological advancements in India will also lead to a sports revolution?

For us, the priority is the comfort of life of the athletes and to ensure that they can concentrate on their training and not worry about other problems. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a champion of digital India and how to integrate it into people’s lives. We have taken the initiative to develop an online portal where any athlete – present or former – can directly request their cash awards, pension or scholarships. Previously, this process took months and sometimes even years, but now this amount will be disbursed through DBT without any verification from SAI or sports federations.

Many NSFs are plagued by factionalism, and a few NSFs have two parallel bodies, which affects athletes. What is the government’s view on this and how can this problem be solved?

The ministry’s job is to be a facilitator and to ensure that athletes do not suffer. A few months ago, we decided to grant provisional recognition to all National Sports Federations until December 31, 2022, provided that they obtain their constitution in accordance with the National Sports Development Code 2011. This has been done so that our athletes leaving for major international tournaments, including the CWG 2022, do not suffer.

Are you satisfied with how the Target Olympic Podium System (TOPS) works and its impact?

TOPS has been a very successful program. He has been able to fill the gaps that exist in the training and competition schedules of elite and development athletes. A significant part of the athletes’ training and competition program is supported by the Ministry’s assistance to National Sports Federations through the Annual Training and Competition Calendar (ACTC) programme. Deviations, if any, are covered by TOPS. TOPS came in when Mirabai Chanu had to travel to St. Louis in the United States at short notice before the Olympics. It was handled in a day so she could leave before the United States stopped flights from India. Another example is that of Neeraj Chopra who travels to Chula Vista so that he can resume training without any distractions and prepare for the World Championships in Athletics. Our department’s National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) program supports TOPS for our grassroots and development athletes. With top corporations and PSUs showing their interest in supporting sports in India, the future is very bright for Indian sports. Just recently we launched a new website and portal for the NSDF where any person, organization or company can contribute any amount to any sport, any athlete or any event of his choice. I call on our nation’s business community to come forward and adopt a game, adopt an athlete, adopt an academy of their choice, and support our athletes.

What would you say to a young person wanting to pursue a career in sport?

We are changing the sports ecosystem to make it conducive to our sportspeople, whether they are elite athletes or homegrown talent. We have a clear system in place. We focus on talent identification and local development through our 523 Khelo India Centers at district level and through SAI Training Centers and NCOEs. We are focused on their next stage of development through the 247 Khelo India Academies and the 29 Khelo India State Centers of Excellence. We focus on their world-class training and support through our national Centers of Excellence. We also organize competitions in all sports disciplines so that players have maximum visibility on match day. For example, we organize women’s leagues dedicated to Khelo India in nine disciplines: hockey, archery, weightlifting, cycling, boxing, swimming, wrestling, volleyball and judo. Through these leagues, more than 23,000 female athletes will participate in these competitions. So our goal is to make India a sporting powerhouse in the world and our youngsters will be the ones who excel.

When we talk about sports promotion, should we talk about medal promotion or sports promotion at the grassroots level? How to get more Indian children to play? Does the government plan to make sport an integral part of all school curricula?

Culturally, we must engage in physical activity on a very intimate level if we are to gain a presence on the global sports scene. In all sections of society, there is a need for increased awareness and understanding of sport. As a nation, we must work to improve our physical literacy levels, appreciating and owning physical activities in daily life. The FIT India movement, which aims to be a grassroots movement, has proven to be crucial in raising awareness of the importance of staying fit and active. The National Education Policy 2020 highlighted the importance of sport and physical activity as an essential part of our education systems. Structural changes are underway to ensure that sport-integrated learning will be undertaken in classrooms to help children develop physical fitness and improved physical literacy. Its implementation by the state governments could prove to be a turning point not only for our education system but also for the sports systems in India.

Read the full interview: