10 year vision plan for sports development: 5 key points
New Sports Minister Jitender Singh has had to stumble into office with bad timing; IOA’s suspension, followed by the Boxing Federation’s, and the internal suspension of the Archery Association, who knows where the buck will stop? On the other hand, it may be a blessing in disguise with a chance to start afresh. Jitender Singh along with the Sports Ministry has prepared a draft of a 10 year vision document for the development of Indian sports. Here are the five key points of the same:
A lot of the posts occupied at the sports federations are honorary. A honorary post comes with lesser pay, responsibilities and power. It isn’t as demanding nor as effective as a full-time post. Getting professionals who are dedicated to their job full-time will result in smoother operations all across the federations. For the longest time, the sports industry has been seen as an afterthought; it makes Jack a dull boy after all. The perception is gradually changing and one good way to speed it up is for the Sports Ministry to show that they value expertise across the posts, and getting paid professionals to fill the same posts is the quickest way for us to move forward.
Catch them young. The earlier kids get involved in a structured system of development and assessment of their talent in sports, the better their chances of competing at the highest level. This will enable the young kids to mature into sportspersons who can be more productive members of the society which is more important than competing at the highest level. Surveys indicate that one in three Indians will be obese by 2030. Getting our citizens to the age of 30 without them having diabetes or high blood pressure or one of the numerous problems arising out of them being overweight is more important than getting 30 gold medals in the Olympics.
This involves making sports a part of the educational curriculum and increasing the status of sports to bring it at par with Maths or Physics. The next five-year plan has a component for making this happen, so we could see it being implemented before ten years. As a long-term goal, this one is absolutely crucial. Our kids need to develop a solid core at a young age for them to be able to pursue any sport with seriousness. Getting them exposure to various sports at a young age is crucial for early talent spotting.
A country of a billion has talent, undeniably so. It just needs to be nurtured and developed to be harnessed to its full potential. One major point of this is tracking and monitoring the performance of athletes. Everyday our athletes attain milestones, milestones which largely pass by unnoticed. Keeping tabs on their performance allows us to identify pockets where specific talent is found, which enables us to uplift them. One step taken in this direction is by Sportskeeda itself, by introducing the Sportskeeda Rep program which will help in identification of talent by you, among other things. Find out more about it here:
Picture a kid with a shiny new toy huddled over it in a corner. The kid wants playmates, but he won’t let anyone touch his awesome new toy. Why should he? It’s so awesome after all. This is what is called a catch-22 situation. We have a lot of existing facilities in our country, but they are not being utilized to its fullest. From personal experience I have noticed that the basketball courts at the Sports Authority of India complex lie empty more than 80% of the time because they can only be used from early morning to 9 AM and post 3 PM till lights out; by that I mean sunlight, there aren’t any spotlights here. And on certain holidays, you aren’t allowed to play there at all. On weekend mornings, you have to clear out by 8:30 to make way for skaters who come to skate on the courts. On Wednesdays, two of the courts are occupied by handball players who play on the goalposts kept across two courts. Also on weekends, a whole host of young kids occupy two basketball courts and you can only play on the third one, where usually tennis players practice conditioning, when some senior basketball players aren’t playing on it.
Even though there are basketball courts at that SAI, they are woefully underutilized. And this is the example of a low end, open air facility. Imagine the state of the more advanced facilities such as indoor ones or ones which require equipment. To be fair, the administrators are open to increasing involvement in every way, and it’s just a matter of breaking out of the rut of regulations in which the courts have been tied up.
There are a whole host of existing schemes in India which aren’t yielding the optimum results such as PYKKA (Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan) which was launched in 2008. Here’s what it entails:
“Each village panchayat is given a one-time grant of INR 100,000 and each block panchayat is given INR 500,000 for this purpose. Additionally, an annual grant for the purchase of sports equipment is given to the tune of INR 10,000 and 20,000 for village and block panchayats respectively. An annual maintenance grant of INR 12,000 and 24,000 is also given.”
The entire grant of course depends on the population of the village. The PYKKA is also supposed to conduct district-state and national level competitions. It can be a very effective scheme if implemented properly. The crux of the vision document is not just introduction of new schemes, its about utilizing the existing one too.
It is one thing to do away with honorary posts, another route is exploring the hiring of consultants to provide specialized assistance. There are a lot of ad-hoc situations where it makes more sense to get a consultant’s expertise even if we can’t afford to employ someone full-time. This will enable the federations to benefit from expertise without having to shell out too much for a full-time post, and will allow them to get more specialized people as and when needed on the projects.