Maintaining momentum: Indian athletes have displayed amazing skill, but more impetus is required to sustain the charge

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New Delhi | Published: September 1, 2018 1:18:58 AM

On the final day of athletics at the 2018 Asian Games, India added five more medals—including two gold—to take its total tally in athletics to 7 gold, 10 silver and two bronze.

Indian athletes have displayed amazing skill at 2018 Asian games

On the final day of athletics at the 2018 Asian Games, India added five more medals—including two gold—to take its total tally in athletics to 7 gold, 10 silver and two bronze. This is the third best performance by the Indian athletics team at the Asian Games in terms of gold medals. The government has, towards this end, actively tried to improve the sporting culture and encourage commitment to sport as a profession within the country—the sports authority of India (SAI), the apex national sports body of the GoI, has developed the National Sports Talent Contest and the Come and Play Scheme. Both are grassroots-focussed initiatives aimed at training the country’s youth in different sporting disciplines.

However, private sector participation in sports development has remained limited to just some sports. A thriving sports ecosystem that could have held the private sector’s interest would have meant better access to funds. The various national sports federations (NSFs)—which are accountable for the overall management, direction and promotion of respective sports—have traditionally been riddled with inefficiency. Leaders who are motivated towards the upbringing of sports in the country need to be stationed at these federations. Under the Khelo India scheme, the Centre will limit assistance for construction of new sports infrastructure or upgradation of existing ones to only government-run bodies. All others seeking assistance will have to first get clearance from the Departmental Project Approval Committee. While increased public interest in various sports should attract the private sector to sports development, the challenge of ensuring security, stability and sustainability in sporting careers requires a combined effort from all the major stakeholders—and the government must help create the ecosystem for this.

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