Legends feel Khelo India School Games could be a game changer
New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) The country's sporting legends today gave a resounding thumbs-up to the first Khelo India School Games, saying these could be the game changer in Indian sport.
The legends, who constitute the Talent Identification Committee (TIDC) of the Games, met Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and apprised him of the talent that they have seen in these ongoing Khelo India School Games.
More than 70 Arjuna Award winners, Dronacharya Awardees and Khel Ratnas were among the TIDC which had a meeting today. The meeting was to take stock of the talent that has been seen since the start of the Games.
"The idea of having all these stalwarts watching these Games and focusing on young talent is that we have a strong pool of talent for the and leading up to the Olympics in 2024, 2028 and so on," said Rathore, an Olympic silver medallist shooter from the 2004 Games in Athens.
"The idea of the Khelo India School Games (KISG) is to make it aspirational and for youngsters to have regular competitions. They can come through School Games to College Games and so on till they get to Asian and Commonwealth Games and finally Olympics."
He said 538 athletes will be selected from these Games and another 462 will be added.
"But if our experts and TIDC tell us that there are more talented youngsters, we are open to adding to that number."
The list of legends included the likes of 2000 Sydney Olympics weightlifting bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari, multiple world champion Kunjarani Devi, hockey star Jagbir Singh, football legend IM Vijayan, boxing coach G S Sandhu, Olympian shooter Mansher Singh and numerous others.
During the week, the likes of P T Usha, Sushil Kumar and many others have been around spotting and looking out for fresh talent.
"There is so much talent in weightlifting at the junior level, that it is unbelievable. I was amazed to see the hunger and the willingness to work hard and do well. If these children are given the right opportunity, they will most certainly become champions," Malleswari said.
Kunjarani, who has won medals at every international event barring the Olympics where she came close, said, "It is not just the Northeast but the whole country. I wish we had events like Khelo India School Games for that would have given us a great start."
"It was a pleasure to interact with these kids. Some of them come from a very humble background. If they get scholarships and an opportunity to study and play sport at the same time, they will develop into champions and excellent people," she added.
Hockey Olympian Jagbir Singh said, "The school level sports have often been neglected and this is the perfect opportunity to create a platform for the future. Regular competitions at this level and the right benefits will go a long way. It is very laudable on part of the government to have created this."
Boxing coach Sandhu, who has created many a champions, said, "We already have a fine pool and now with the likes of Vijender and others becoming idols for youngsters, a platform like Khelo India School Games is just what we needed to unearth talent from the early stages."
"The presence of sport on TV and the benefits that are coming their way, it is not only youngsters but also their parents, who are looking at sport as a great career opportunity