What's the story?
Former Indian badminton champion and the current chief coach of the Indian badminton team, Pullela Gopichand has lauded the Indian sports ministry for taking the initiative of organising the Khelo India University Games on such a huge platform.
In case you did not know
Pulella Gopichand became the first Indian to receive the Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award in the male category in 2019 by the International Olympic Committee in recognition of his efforts in developing badminton in India, supporting athletes in various sports, and for his involvement in the Olympics.
Heart of the matter
The university segment of the Khelo India Games will give an opportunity to players in the under-25 category to exhibit their sporting skills. Those who are able to emerge as medal winners can then further be trained and prepared to represent the country at major international events such as the Olympics.
Check out: Updated Khelo India University Games 2020 medal tally
So far, in India, education and sports have had a separate existence and universities have never been able to provide such an exposure to the aspiring sportspeople.
With the launch of the Khelo India Games, students will get a better chance to pursue sports as their career. According to Gopichand, it is essential to see educational institutions as not just centers for academic learning but also for the all-round growth and development of the students in every field, including sports. Universities, with their infrastructure, space and support staff can lend the students a bright prospect for pursuing sports.
"Across the world, universities have been the incubator for grooming talent for major international competitions. In the US, for instance, the USA National Collegiate Athletic's Association (NCAA) Championships is a huge affair. In the 2018-19 games, over 1.82 lakh athletes participated in Division 1 alone, and they have three such divisions.
"Unfortunately in India, for far long we have looked at education and sport as two separate entities. It’s important to see educational institutions as not just academic center's career, including sport," Gopichand wrote in his column for Times of India.
The Khelo India games are going to start from 22nd February 2020 in Odisha and will witness more than 4000 athletes from 100 universities from across the length and breadth of the country competing in 17 different sports including archery, badminton, tennis, swimming amongst the others.