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SAI NCOE foundation stone laid in Cooch Behar, Olympic medalists Neeraj Chopra, Lovlina Borgohain and others attend event

National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) (Pic Credit: SAI)
National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) (Pic Credit: SAI)
Aishwarya Kasibhatla

The Sports Authority of India National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) has been established with the aim of providing aspiring athletes with the finest sporting facilities while covering 12 sports disciplines in North Bengal’s Cooch Behar district.

Minister of State for Sports Nisith Pramanik and Minister of State for Railways Darshana Jardosh laid the foundation stone in the presence of Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur, who was a part of the ceremony virtually on Saturday (May 21).

Speaking about the NCOE, Anurag Thakur said:

"Initiatives like Target Olympic Podium Scheme and Khelo India scheme has made sure to do the best possible for athletes. The opening of this NCOE is another big step taken especially by Nisith Pramanik ji and Darshana ji."
"We wanted to make one of the best sporting facilities in North Bengal and today, the foundation stone has been laid. This will help over 1000 athletes get the training who will in return help India reach new heights in the sporting arena."

The SAI will now have a total of 24 NCOEs across the country. The facilities include 100 bedded hostels for athletes, a recreational zone as well as a residential area for staff, an outdoor training area and indoor sporting facilities.

It will also provide the athletes with the best coaches, qualified support staff and high-performance directors.

Hon. MoS Railways & Textiles Smt @DarshanaJardosh & Hon. MoS Home Affairs and Youth Affairs & Sports Sh. @NisithPramanik Pramanik laid the foundation stone of SAI NCoE, #CoochbeharSigning & exchange of MOU between SAI & @RailMinIndia for setting up NCoEHere are few glimpses https://t.co/jTHBQdMt2s

Olympic medallists Neeraj Chopra, Lovlina Borgohain speak at the NCOE opening ceremony

2021 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain and silver medalist Ravi Kumar Dahiya were virtually present at the event. The event also saw men’s and women's hockey players Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Salima Tete and Nikki Pradhan make an appearance.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Neeraj Chopra is confident that NCOE will produce several champions in the future. The 24-year-old said:

"When athletes are starting out, they need a lot of infrastructure facilities. When I started out, there weren't much facilities in my village, but things have changed now. I thank Anurag sir, Nisith sir and Darshana ma'am for establishing the SAI centre. I wish this NCOE all the best and I hope that a lot of future champions emerge from this centre who will make our country proud."

Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Ravi Kumar Dahiya stated that NCOE is a big step towards the development of several grassroots athletes and said:

"I want to thank both Railways and the government of India. This is a massive step for developing grassroots athletes. Many athletes emerging from here will make the country proud."

Meanwhile, Lovlina Borgohain thanked the SAI for the support they have given her and mentioned that she was looking forward to visiting the centre soon. She said:

"A SAI NCOE in North Bengal is a fantastic opportunity for athletes. I myself am indebted to SAI for the role they played in my life when I started out with the SAI Guwahati center. If I can, I will really want to go to Cooch Behar and meet the young athletes training in the NCOE."

Manpreet Singh emphasized the importance of the NCOE in modern sports and explained:

"I want to thank the Government for starting this NCOE in Cooch Behar. There will be 12 sports disciplines featuring here, world-class coaching facilities, the best equipment, great facilities, and so on. This is very important in modern sports."
"The Khelo India scheme has also helped in awareness of sports across universities. There are many youngsters I've come across who are in national camps due to Khelo India. We're going in the right way."

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar

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