Tokyo Olympics are over and so are the scenes of jubilation across nation. Neeraj Chopra’s stunning victory has got registered in the history books. But think once again, how many among us knew Neeraj Chopra earlier and how many among us knew about the game of javelin? I feel to ask all this because Neeraj Chopra didn’t reach directly to Tokyo. He qualified and participated in many events before representing India at Tokyo Olympics. All that went unnoticed from crores of people of this country. This reflects a clear case of our country lacking sporting culture. The result is that India with population of 1.35 billion and with good resources always falls short in events like Olympics. In every Olympics, many contenders and big contingent goes from India but only few players out of them get some medal.
It took us decades to get one gold medal in athletics. Need is to revive India’s sports culture at the grass-root level or we may have to wait for another decade to get gold. One thing is clear that there is no shortage of skills in our country. We have to think over and above cricket and into other sports like hockey, football, archery, wrestling, badminton and table tennis. The under performance of our players is due to many reasons. Parents have a role to play as they give no priority to sports in the life of their children. And preoccupation with grades or marks is the reason which makes them keep their children away from sports. We need a cultural revolution and focus should be laid at school and college level because physical classes in college are considered unnecessary till today by students. Moreover, poverty is also a reason which keeps many children away from sports because poverty affects performance of any individual to continue his/her journey on the sports field. We have seen this in our country as many national/international players later do petty jobs for survival and running home.
In 2014, Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) flagship athlete centric program of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports was started. This initiative of government provided assistance to India’s top athletes in their preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It helped players train with modern infrastructure to compete with other nations in world class atmosphere. This shows that it’s actually more important to implement policy than just making policies. Another government initiative like Khelo India is among policies made for encouragement of sports which also focused on science behind the sports. The budget on sports promotion was increased from 1400 crores in 2016-17 to 2826 crores in 2019-20. However, again in 2021-22 budget was reduced to 2500 crores. Besides this all, it has to be seen that benefit must reach the beneficiaries because we have seen that in game like Taekwondo India couldn’t send a single player to Tokyo Olympics.
As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, situation is not conducive for sportspersons to grow and compete at national, international level. Infact we are lagging far behind to north Indian states like Punjab & Haryana. There are only few names from Jammu and Kashmir who have enormous talent and compete at international platforms to bring laurels for Jammu Kashmir. Lack of proper infrastructure and coaching facilities from J&K Sports Council is hindrance for the proper development of different sportspersons in J&K. It is pertinent to mention a fundamental problem here that sports are trapped entirely in politics and political system of Jammu and Kashmir. Need is to have alot of role models in sports which act as inspiration and produce more sportspersons. Also it is required that we at the earliest end lack of recognition in other sports in India to promote and support sportsmen. If this all is channelized in next few years then day is not far when we would rise to top from bottom in the Olympics tally.