Holistic Approach to Sports Development in India

Holistic Approach

Holistic Approach to Sports Development in India

Apart from cricket and chess, where India has produced exceptional talent like Viswanathan Anand, our performance in other sports has often given the impression that we are underachievers. To become a sporting giant, a country needs to perform consistently on and off the field. Despite having resources, India continues to struggle in global events, and this calls for a holistic approach to build a strong sporting culture.

Countries that have traditionally excelled in various sports encourage children to take up sports seriously from a young age, following the principle of “catch them young.” In India, school-going children are seldom encouraged to pursue sports seriously. This mindset must change if we want to lay a strong foundation and produce quality players. The current scenario is undeniably grim and requires urgent attention. Many of our sportspersons who have excelled in international events have done so because of their own efforts and determination, rather than significant government support.

In India, the system fails to recognize talent until the player achieves success in some national or international event. As a result, individuals interested in sports often have to navigate through the challenges of the school curriculum, parental pressure, and the need to find jobs to support their livelihoods. Only after winning some medals can they hope for a turnaround in their sporting career.

Unfortunately, the challenges do not end there. Sports administrations in India are often run by individuals with limited understanding of sports, leaving our athletes to seek sponsors and financial aid on their own. A glaring example is Nisha Rani Dutta, a former national archer who won silver at the 2008 South Asian championship. She was forced to sell her silver bow for a meager sum of Rs. 50,000 to support her family. The movie “Paan Singh Tomar” aptly highlighted the struggles faced by our medal winners within the system.

Among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), China secured the 2nd position in the recent Olympics, showcasing their consistent sporting success. Russia finished 4th, Brazil 21st, South Africa 24th, while India lagged behind at 55th. It is essential to mention BRICS, as China has already hosted the Olympics and performed well, while Brazil will host the next edition in 2016. Despite managing to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010, India still lags behind even among the BRICS countries, both in terms of medal tally and sports infrastructure.

To turn the tide and foster a robust sporting culture, India must adopt a holistic approach that encompasses various aspects:

  1. Grassroots Development: Encourage schools and communities to promote sports from a young age. Identifying talent early and providing proper training and facilities are crucial.
  2. Government Support: The government needs to provide adequate funding and resources to support aspiring athletes. Developing world-class infrastructure and training facilities will go a long way in nurturing talent.
  3. Recognition and Reward: Recognize and reward talent, not just based on major events but also at the grassroots level. This will motivate athletes and encourage their pursuit of excellence.
  4. Efficient Sports Administration: Appoint knowledgeable and experienced individuals to manage sports organizations. Effective governance will ensure athletes receive the support they need.
  5. Corporate and Private Sector Involvement: Encourage corporates and the private sector to invest in sports sponsorship and development. Partnerships can provide much-needed financial support and exposure to athletes.
  6. Public Awareness and Media Coverage: Increase public awareness about various sports and athletes to generate interest and support from fans and sponsors. Extensive media coverage will attract attention and recognition.
  7. Sports Culture in Educational Institutions: Promote sports as an essential part of education and encourage students to participate actively in physical activities.
  8. International Exposure: Arrange for athletes to participate in international tournaments and training camps to gain experience and exposure to different playing styles.

By adopting a holistic approach that addresses these aspects, India can aspire to become a sporting powerhouse and achieve the goal of winning medals consistently at global events. Building a strong sporting culture will not only benefit our athletes but also inspire the entire nation and foster a sense of pride in our sporting achievements.