20 September, New Delhi
Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Wednesday announced a revamped ‘Khelo India’ programme in an effort to improve the overall standard of sports in the country.
The revamped programme was approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The revamped programme is estimated to cost Rs.1,756 crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20.
“This marks a watershed moment in the history of Indian sports, as the programme aims at mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual development, community development, economic development and national development,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The revamped Khelo India Programme would impact the entire sports ecosystem, including infrastructure, community sports, talent identification, coaching for excellence, competition structure and sports economy,” it added.
The programme, a pan India sports scholarship scheme, intends to cover 1,000 talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
Each athlete selected under the scheme will receive an annual scholarship of Rs.5 lakh for eight consecutive years.
“We will include 1,000 more young athletes every year to this scheme. We intend to provide these youngsters the best possible in terms of training and facilities,” Rathore told the media.
“This is the first time ever that a long-term athlete development pathway would be made available to gifted and talented youngsters to excel in competitive sports and will create a pool of highly competitive athletes who can compete to win at the world stage,” he added.
The programme also aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which is intended to enable talented athletes to pursue competitive sports without compromising on their education.
“Well it’s all step by step and right now the step we are taking, we are going to focus on that and that is two broad verticles. One is broad basing of sports and the second is providing the best facilities to top sportsmen of the country. The rest we can follow,” Rathore said.
The programme will also cover about 200 million children in the age group of 10-18 under a massive national physical fitness drive.
According to the ministry, this will not only measure the physical fitness of all children in the concerned age group, but also support their fitness related activities.