Included in the list of celebratory days of India in 2012, August 29 was for the first time, marked as The National Sports Day. This date was chosen to commemorate birthday anniversary of Hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand who is universally known for his ball control skills. He was instrumental in India winning Gold medals in 1928,1932 and 1936 Olympic Games.
Legendary Dhyan Chand who played international hockey as a perfect craftsman till 1949 was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1956. National Sports day celebrations are thus a step towards encouraging sports in India by remembering his legacy. However, the international recognition of the Indian sportspersons in the world arena falls short of expectations.
The progressive decline in our achievements at global level is hard to miss. The incentives for athletes came down to Rs. 70 crore from Rs. 111 crore in the union budget 2020. Punjabi players traditionally ruled the sporting arena in pre-1947 era as well as post-independence years. The National Sports Day is the right occasion to analyze what has gone wrong and how improvement can be made.
Most of the times, it is seen that politicians are chosen as heads of sports bodies at the national and provincial levels even as they have never played any game on the field. This trend in our country has percolated down up to district level sports bodies too. Even if some sportspersons enter politics and are rewarded with ministerial berths, they seldom have contributed anything significant to improve things to uplift level of sports. Reports of nepotism and corruption are there in public knowledge.
Many sports bodies face problems at the hands of government machinery as seen in delays caused in sanction of various grants and awards for sports bodies and players. It is not understandable why these officials do not understand that the sports promoters working hard at the ground level need to be supported rather than discouraged. There are numerous instances of Panchayats providing land for sports grounds, yet adequate government support is missing. Let the Deputy Commissioners make sports promotion among priorities in their respective districts.
Surprisingly, sports have never been a priority for a majority of the Indian parents for their kids. Our mindset has been traditionally fed: Khelogay kudogay hovogay kharab, padhogay likhogay banogay nawab (studying hard makes one successful but playing sports ruins one’s life). Developed countries long back changed thismaxim, but we are still not encouraging sports culture among our kids. Earnings of top players of the world are comparable with successful business persons. Back home, we too have some examples. Many such players globally have also contributed funds to the development of the communities too.
Rather than inviting only foreign coaches at hefty salaries, we can also send our own coaches for reorientation and training abroad. They communicate better with the local players. There should be wider participation in sports of the private sector that can be very helpful in mobilization of funds. The popularity of Basketball, Soccer and Cricket are examples worth emulating. Since era of globalization set in, there has been great professional impetus to sports in such games. Punjab in recent time has started doing well in Basketball. The shining example is of players produced by Ludhiana Basketball Academy who have been selected in the prestigious NBA leagues.
One is reminded of a famous sports quote on sports given by Ludhiana’s own Prof. Baljit Singh Grewal which was officially accepted at Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 and later in Tehran and Seoul Asian Games. It runs: “To distill human strength into speed and skill and to elevate mankind’s mind above the weakness of reward and recognition is the sole purpose of sports”. Fit India slogan of Government of India can fructify only if we make sports compulsory right from the school level. Surprisingly, this area is neglected in New Education Policy too. Sports and Yoga could be combined as one subject with experts’ inputs.
Sports and physical education is unfortunately is still an optional subject in schools. And in such scenario, we aspire for Olympic Medals!!!. Medals will definitely be won if we are able to build professional sports culture in the country and improve our fitness quotient. Covid-19 pandemic should be an eye opener that the physically fit persons with strong immunity levels can fight onslaught of viruses. We must also encourage native sports which are also the motive of Olympic Charter.
Author is a Ludhiana-based sports promotor and Treasurer of Ludhiana Basketball AcademyDisclaimer: Opinion/facts in this article are author's own and famepunjabi.in does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.