Khelo India 2019: Helpful organizers, supportive governments help smaller states make the most of the platform
Pune, January 18: The Khelo India Youth Games has been an ideal platform for athletes from all over the country to showcase their talent. More importantly, it has been a celebration of Indian sport, where even the smallest states have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with other superior competitors.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli with seven, Nagaland with 13, and Daman and Diu with 20 entrants saw the smallest representation of players at the KIYG.
Lakshadweep, with a 29-player squad, barely made it to the tournament in the first place. They fought the challenges of extremely poor internet connectivity back home which restricted them from filing their documents on the tournament portal that were required to confirm participation.
Bhargav Gopal, the State Liaisoning Officer for the team, then took it upon himself to help out. “There was no way all the players would have finished the process before the deadline. We then decided to divide the work and I manually filled in most details and we just about made it within the deadline,” said Bhargav who added that the players were up for their task after an almost 36-hour journey to Pune.
Daman and Diu, with a 20-player contingent and 11 boxers among their ranks, guaranteed themselves three boxing medals as Amit Kumar, Hitesh Kumar, and Rahul Harpal earned a bronze each in the Under-21 category. Not many had expected them to come that far, but they were keen on defying the odds.
Said team official Amarjit Singh, “It is a matter of great pride for us to have three medalists already, especially when we were least expected to do so. We take sports very seriously in Daman and Diu and we are glad it’s paying off.”
Their coach Vijay Pahal laid emphasis on the fighting spirit his players have always carried, and how it has helped them excel at the KIYG. He thanked the government of Daman and Diu for ensuring he and his team had the required facilities to conduct effective training sessions in preparation for the games.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli had here the smallest contingent with just seven players. Table tennis coach Dhawal Karnik pointed out how his players had never received coaching prior to November last year but showed good spirit when they faced higher ranked players. He said that the experience at KIYG has given his players a better understanding of what it took to be at the top and that they were keen to put in that effort.
It is heartening to see these teams stand up to challenges when the odds are stacked against them. Initiatives such as the KIYG have given them the ideal opportunity to express themselves as they hope to keep competing at the highest level and put their lesser known states on the map of world sport in the time to come.