Khelo India, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports was launched with an aim to bridge the gap between sports at the school level and professional sports but is it really happening? PM Narendra Modi on January 31, kicked off KISG at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Anu Kumar of Uttarakhand grabbed the first gold medal of the Khelo India School Games. But last week, the 42-kg freestyle wrestling event for boy saw just three entries. It meant that all the three participants were ensured a podium finish.
This just did not end here, even in most of the other categories — both boys’ and girls’ wrestling — there were only about 8-12 participants. The boys’ 46-kg freestyle wrestling registered most entries with 16 participants. While both KISG and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) started the blame game for the low turnout, former president of School Games Federation of India (SGFI), Satpal Singh praised the initiative and said that Khelo India is a very good scheme. Singh added that best results can also be obtained if KISG is conducted responsibly. “It ensures the future of a player, but we need to ensure that the player receives his money and there is no misuse,” he said.
Each sport in the nine-day event has been assigned a talent-hunt committee. The job of the committee is to look for two top sportspersons who will each be entitled to a Rs 5-lakh annual scholarship for eight years. Khelo India CEO Sandeep Pradhan said the 42-kg boys’ event was reduced to a three-way race for gold, silver and bronze since the WFI didn’t have time to hold fresh national championships.
Asked why was it the same in other categories too, Pradhan said that both SGFI and WFI told us that these are new weight categories introduced by the international federation, so sending wrestlers in those categories would be difficult.
The wrestling federation, in turn, had put blame on the KISG. WFI said that KISG did not allow participation of wrestlers approved by them.