Indian Sports And Development : Whether Sports Authority of India is Stepping Forward or Still Sitting Idle ?

Gyanendro Ningombam *

 Sports Hostels, Indoor Stadium inuagurated at Khuman Lampak Complex :: July 20 2011
Sports Hostels, Indoor Stadium at Khuman Lampak Complex in July 2011

Games and Sports have always been seen as an integral component in all round development of human personality. Achievement in sports has always been a source of national pride and prestige. However, unlike in the past, the modern sports have become highly competitive. The use of modern equipment, infrastructure and advanced scientific support has changed the scenario of sports in international level. Keeping in line with the growing demands in sports, Government of India has taken various befitting steps and initiations in order to ensure Indian sports "an indefatigable Joie de vivre".

Sports Authority of India (SAI), in fact was established by the GOI in the year 1984 as a registered society primarily to ensure effective maintenance and optimum utilization of various sports infrastructure that were built in Delhi during the Asiad 1982. It has now become the nodal agency in the country for broadbased sports and for training of sportspersons' excellence in National and International sports. The Society for National Institute of Physical Education and Sports (SNIPES) was merged with SAI with effect from 1st May 1987.

Subsequently Netaji Subash National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala and its allied centres at Bangalore, Kolkata, Gandhinagar and Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education at Thiruvanthapuram came under SAI. It has now six regional centres at Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Kolkata, Sonepat, Bhopal and Imphal, and two sub centres at Guwahati and Lukcknow also operate a High Altitude Training Centre (HATC) at Shillong, Himachal Pradesh.

SAI operates various schemes at Sub-Junior, Junior and Senior levels namely, National Sports Talent Contest (NSTC), Army Boys Sports Company (ABSC), SAI Training Centres (STC) and Special Area Games of Excellence (COE) for elite sports persons at each of its Regional Centres and one at National Institute of Sports, Patiala. It is a fact that SAI is the only Government Agency that looks after the development of all Olympic sports. The role of SAI and its mandate is, in fact, to achieve excellence in sports in the country by taking up the following- Broadbase sports, identify talents, nurture players, provide equipment and infrastructure, give them time to time foreign exposure and finally take them to the podium.

But one must remember that sports are always in the "State list" and it is the primary responsibility of the state to take any appropriate action in broadbased sports. State Governments under their department of youth affairs and sports are implementing various schemes on broadbased sports. But I am afraid whether SAI or the State Governments are properly implementing such beautiful schemes in befitting manner or simply adjusting the decision making style of sporting bureaucracy ?

Honestly speaking infrastructure and equipment available in the country's Regional Centre, Sports Training Centre (STCS) and Special Area Games (SAG) Centre are not upto the mark. And in some places, they have coaches but not trainees, it is the other way round. There are also centres where we have coaches and trainees but no infrastructure.

For example - in Imphal centre, there are 50 plus hockey inmates (Boys and Girls) who are not getting proper training only for want of infrastructure. The decade old project for installation new turf inside the SAI complex, Takyelpat has been still keeping undone. I don't know what is the reason behind it. Just consider how sports loving people of this state would greet SAI people if the project is taken up that could also herald yet another era of sports movement in this tiny state.

Here SAI authority must call to mind that the landmark and success would be a huge turn around the term of popularizing hockey in this highly prone state where the trainees are accustomed to taking up this lovely national game. And it would also be an inspiration for the youngsters who have enough potential in exploring their hidden talents.

And one more thing here which is to be clearly discussed in depth is that trainees under Imphal Centre are always seen running on roads, not on running tracks that too in front of coaches, support staff and Director of SAI. I don't know whether they are wholeheartedly marshalling the trainees on to the aspect of achieving excellence or simply operating with the bureaucracy confines ?

There are 55 STCs across the length and breadth of the country. But it is never accesses the need for such facilities. Then How can we expect to achieve excellence and rich fruits in sports ? To my view at this point of time the aim for achieving country's feat should have been better training centres than more training centres. The clamour for more training centers' needs, therefore, to be resisted and benefit analysis should also be made.

At present there are 1400 coaches under SAI doing their best. But in the country of one billion plus population, what can 1400 coaches do ? This has overwhelmed us with wonder ! And in spite of this, there is a severe dearth of qualified coaches in the country. No one is aware of the fact (either Govt. or Govt. nodal agency SAI). They are simply wasting or expending money on hiring qualified foreign coaches.

Keeping in line one would like to know why SAI, the sole authority is so reluctant in sitting up an "Institute of Sports Coaching" in the country in order to avail minimum or maximum qualified coaches of foreign calibre ? However, there is a welcome note that GOI has decided to set up one such institute and its project report in under preparation and hopefully, we will have a plan in place in days to come.

I am really sad to mark here that GOI has disbursed Rs. 160 crore to various National Federations for hiring foreign coaches, buying equipment and foreign trip of athletes. Shouldn't we know how this money has been used and what benefits gained ? I have recently visited some STCs and SAG centres in the eastern region of the country and it has come to understand that no renovation of sports infrastructure have been properly taken up for a pretty long time. And improvements of existing infrastructure in many centres have not done in routine manner. Instead of taking these works on a war footing, they are still taking tall in the name of sports and possessing their "GADDIES".

A pertinent question poses to SAI authority - why they have not taken these steps under first PPP model of sports which is inducted by the GOI. Why SAI has not taken up a positive step to enter into MOU with some agencies like M/S JSW Sports Ltd. who is taking up renovating sports infrastructures in the STC, Hissar. Despite pouring cash awards , appreciations and accolades to the sportspersons who brought laurels of the country why GOI particularly Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is unwilling in taking initiative to get corporate houses and public sector undertakings to adopt important SAI centres in the country. This will definitely, ensure the unkeep of the infrastructure and their modernization when required.

Here, one can understand that as far as the achievement of excellence in sports in the country is concerned the sports Authority of India should never turned blind in concentrating more on Secial Area Games. SAG centres have always to be the centre for exclusive development of a sports prevalent in a particular area. And I have no hesitation to say that SAI needs to go deeper into North East and Tribal areas who have potentials based on their physical structures in the country to locate talents and pick them for nurturing. And for development of coaching - a frame work for each discipline should be made out whether it is an Olympic sports or a Paralympic sports.

There are five historic Stadia owned by SAI in the country and Govt is investing Rs. 2000 plus crores every year. However, they have not made any revenue out of it. Maintenance of these stadia is simply eating into our precious resources of the country and therefore SAI authority needs to come forward with a concrete model which can generate pretty income from these Stadia.

Now to book to the fray in the highly competitive sporting world we need to formulate a concrete "Long Term Development Plan for Sports" in the country. That, in the plan National Federations could easily be incorporated because in term of broadbased sports in the country there is always an area where National Sports Federations and State Associations or authorities are found wanting. We sincerely need to come out with a "Mission" with a either " Mission for 2020" or "Mission for 2030". Let us not forget SAI is becoming a ground for emerging sportspersons in the country.

* Gyanendro Ningombam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
The writer is the Editor of Meeyam Evening Daily. He can be reached at gyanendroningombam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on November 05, 2014.

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