Khelo India : Sath hai hum!

For centuries, a question has been bugging throughout the world – how a nation with 1.3 billion people can’t emerge as a sporting powerhouse in global events. Over and over again people have lamented about lack of government support for sports in India ;but finally Government of India has managed to turn it around this time as “Khelo India” school games is ready to be unleashed this January.

In a major cabinet re-shuffle last year, the first individual Olympic Medalist Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore took charge as Minister of State of Youth affairs and Sports and instantly initiated a revamped National Program for development of sports and strengthened the sports ecosystem by introducing Khelo India Games aimed at grassroot level and it’s development . Grassroot level is generally considered the age from 6-16 years where a boy can develop lot of personality traits, communication skills through different sports as well as nurturing their god gifted abilities into world class talent. Khelo India games is primarily targeted at  young budding sports professionals and it promises to fund exceptional 1000 athletes every year by  5 lakhs for 8 years consecutively ;which in course will actually bridge the economic supportability gap between  prodigy and properly grown world class talent.

Khelo India school Games, a part of Khelo India programme is ready to flag off in New Delhi this 31st January with all the U-17 athletes varied across 16 disciples which are as follows: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling. A whopping 3298 athletes will be competing in this inaugural season with star sports covering the nitty-gritties of the event  for  which Union Cabinet approved a total budget of Rs. 1756 crore for next three years- all these a short statistical new record of this mega event which is set to overhaul the present ecosystem catering to sports.

As Rathore-led ministry looks to convert 150 schools into complete sports schools, investing a staggering 1000 crores; many of the schools in Mumbai have already started to take sports as a serious subject. Don Bosco ,Matunga has been a pioneer in this regard since ages; as time and again they have produced plethora of talent which has been converted into national or international level athletes. Leslie Machado, the head coach says support of the head of institution is the ace in the hole in present situation. Matunga’s branch of this top-revered institute has 3 natural grass field along with an astro-turf & several assistant coaches dedicated to different sports;   as all the students have to pursue at least one  sport of their choice  as a subject  and they practice it every day on a mandatory basis. Selection for proper training on each sports starts from second standard until when the head coaches identify special abilities of the kid and this selection happens every year in every standard, thus ensuring a stable pool of talent. Even their Nerul branch is coming off ages and is faring pretty well in district and state level  as they have 3 medium sized and 1 large sized astro-turf for all sporting activities.

Sadhu Vaswani International School in Sanpada hasn’t been far behind as they too have produced various grassroot level prodigies identified as serious talent . Whereas the general perception is school authorities fail to divide workload when it comes to sports scenes, this school has assigned more than 10 sports coaches working with them to overlook various number of sports. DY Patil International school and Father Agnel’s multipurpose school have broken all the shackles as they can boast of having one of the best sports infrastructure and facilities,that this city pertains. With ample facilities for most of the premier sports, these venues are also considered for biggest sports events in this part of the country  . DAV Public and Seventh Day Adventist Schools, both in Navi Mumbai have come up with unique features in their curriculum which refers to “One child. One sport” motto creating an overall awareness of role of sports in personality development.

In a country where average cardiac arrest age is 25-30 years, which is considered as the future of nation and world’s largest youngest population which is not healthy; Khelo India brings a lease of fresh air as it claims to offer physical fitness drive for 200 million children as well as , selecting 20 thousand youngsters whose education and sports training will be facilitated by the government. After so many years of living with the myth that, there is not enough money dedicated to sports and youth development ; Rathore, with revamped approach has shown it to the inhabitants of this large peninsula that, there is no dearth of money in case of sports, and if utilized properly, can grow the sporting future of this country by leaps and bounds . Khelo India  promises a pool of 10,000 athletes to choose from, for 2028 Olympics if everything goes according to the plan.

As we started with the question why a country with 1.3 billion people can’t emerge as a sporting powerhouse in global events it may culminate to an upcoming question , that is, will all  1.3 billion people get an equal opportunity to shine as sports hero of this nation?

1st Khelo India games, New Delhi prepares to answer the question as it unfolds this 31st January,2018.