Country instilled with the values of ‘Kheloge Koodoge Hoge Kharab, Padhoge Likhoge Banoge Nawab’, seeking a better slot on the medal tally is like wishing for a revolutionary in neighbour’s house. Yes, we had hard times and different priorities but there were no dearth of talents who stunned the world by their mesmerising performances in the past, we just had to continue the legacy and conditioning but somehow we faltered.

Disappointment in India on dismal performance will soon be over as curtains down in Rio De Janeiro till Tokyo in 2020. And again after four years India will be cheering emotionally without taking international standards into consideration that how our sportspersons are being thrown into an event where they just do not match the class.

Whatever little redemption we have is due to individual grit and utter commitment, our policy, for sure, has not made them winners. We do not make champions, we worship champions and shamelessly take credit based on region, state, religion or caste.

We can’t even imagine the agony athletes undergo while participating in an event without proper training and competing to high-standard opponents, knowing they would lose and our TRP-hungry-hyper-nationalist media creates a furore which further puts negative pressure on players to perform resulting a nationwide heartbreak.

Waking up six months before such international events reminds me of school days when teachers by force prepare some students to perform in an event or before a visiting officials, leaders etc., and conclude it as a formality taking a sigh of relief.

It is disheartening to see world’s third largest economy almost discounted as a potential opponent in most international sports events. It is further depressing to see reporters invading participants home to record their family’s first reaction instead of capturing photo visuals displaying nation’s sports ailments. What a regressive approach it is where money loads are showered once the feat is achieved whereas player’s dietary stipend is denied before the event. And it is quite reasonable to say that once they have the medal in their pockets they don’t need such large-heartedness, they can manage without it.

We do not prepare them, we claim them once they become heroes, and we have no policy, in principle. We have policy to arrange comfortable business class tickets to the officials whereas athletes travel in economy class expected to compete in few hours post arrival. We have policy to send a radiologist as chief medical officer because he is related to Committee’s official. We have policy to send a physiotherapist only when the participant qualifies for the final event. We have policy to send official contingent bigger than the participating athlete contingent. These sports event have become opportune moment for tour & sightseeing and favouring officials & those in power.

Before curing the ailing system we must diagnose the disease as an incorrect diagnose kills the patient. These hard facts may be rejected but further denial will not serve any good as it already has dented a lot.

– Political interference has ruined the sports environment across the country. They are policy-makers but trying to capture every organisation to woo youngsters expanding their clout having nothing left to politicize about and show their political bankruptcy. They are abusing the system whereas performers opinionate on futile TV discussions.

– Budget-less incompetent Ministry of Sports either does ritualistic advertising & sloganeering or busy inaugurating facilities later defunct due to lack of necessary provisions. These visionless people sans agenda are damaging the system more than anything else. Their policy is to make people regret to choose sports as their profession.

– Ingrained nepotism has made the selection process biased, despotic, discriminatory and faulty. Many talents are buried for paving way for few to break records and touching new highs as we have blue-eyed-boy system in place whereas Messi has been sentenced in tax evasion case, What would have happened if Messi was born in India, I am sure we would have been kinder with a title ie. ‘God of Soccer’ beyond assessment.

If we are seriously looking for respectable positioning in world sports we need commitment and political will to create a sports culture across the country with a ten-year-sports-awareness-programme. I can’t commit the numbers but I am sure after first such concentrated programme it will not only increase the tally but also national pride.

– Complete overhauling of sports ministry, formulation of aggressive and affirmative sports policy, compulsory depoliticization of sports authorities, demoralizing red-tapism effectively could be first steps to let sports breathe.

– Though informal sports activities are included in state and central schools but mostly it’s treated as an extra-curricular affair, time has come to induct indoor & outdoor sports/games as a mandatory subject with grades depending upon physical vitality of students, schools not having sports facilities can be affiliated with nearest sports colleges/ clubs/ facilities. Every school should have a qualified or decorated sports teacher, this will not only increase career in sports but also increase the chances to pick the talent early for professional grooming. MHRD has to play a very crucial role introducing sports curriculum and to remain a watchdog in its implementation and execution.

– Students excelling in sports must be encouraged with easy sports education loans financing their professional training needs, sports scholarships and free sports medical insurance can be a deterrent for those who leave it due to financial vows. Though scholarships are introduced but the scale is very limited. Sports excel programme can address unemployment among youth to an extent for sure. Yearly rural sports festivals can be organized under supervision of District Magistrate and other district authorities further expanding to yearly state sports festivals enabling us to zero down a contingent needs serious efforts and push.

– Modernize and revamp all existing national sports colleges, build new sports colleges in states lacking it, introduce central sports university on international standards, equip institutes with highest possible amenities, make it accessible and interactive to the most.

– Foreign selectors are needed to be introduced for the selection of participants in international events as they have international experience and better understanding of the standards needed, regular international training with world’s best coaches is required for timely exposure. India is world’s thirds largest economy and I do not see it extravagant to hire few greats to help us find the momentum.

And above all, let them play the game, do not play with them.

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