India not really shining post-Rio Olympics 2016, what’s lacking?

04 July 2016

Fact: India just has to its credit ‘one’ single gold medal since 1980 .

Reality: Access to a well maintained sports training infrastructure is to a budding Olympian what a pen or books are to a littérateur, or those cute toys are to a curiously nascent child. We all know by now that despite of our elevated expectations, all that our shining players could fetch from the Rio Olympics were two medals.

No doubt, we are still proud of them. But it’s high time that we acknowledge the fact that the onus ultimately lies on not only the government or on the designated federations at the ministry levels, or the Sports Authority of India, but also on the entire system of governance from the school—university—state level to reinvigorate that winning spirit by way of bringing those tangible changes in the training infrastructure, funding, testing, and assessments of our Olympic talent, both at the national, as well as state levels.

According to Injeti Srinivas, Director General, Sports Authority of India, the current sports system is in a dire need to experience a thorough revamping, more so in such crucially scientific areas as sports sciences and monitoring.

Such a massive sports and youth welfare policy change is only possible when the Centre and State government act together in sync. When backed by a stern political will to not only allocate the budgetary (plan, non-plan) funding to their designated destinations optimally, but also have an efficient mechanism to make sure that the funding has been efficiently utilised. Those assuming the responsibility to monitor sports development at the state level; as sports is one of the 61 state subjects as per the State List, to exercise greater control and transparency.

Building an effective talent development ecosystem at the Olympic level also requires a serious consideration to developing domestic coaches of world class coaching aptitude. The role of such stellar institutes like the National Institute of Sports Coaching or the Indian Institute of Sports Science and Research shall stand crucial when they allocate their respective planned 2016-17 budget funds of Rs. 0.50 crore and Rs. 0.40 crore in the times to come. This will only be possible by optimally allocating and utilising the Rs. 3,200 crore that the central government, in its Union Budget, along with the states coordination, expends on youth affairs and sports.

Budget statistics reveal that The United Kingdom expends over $1.5 billion or Rs. 9,000 crore on sports infrastructure and training, by way of an annual sports budget. Apart from this, UK Sport shelled about $350 million only on Olympics preparations between 2013 and 2017.

Increasing the budgetary spending on sports infrastructure framework is one solution. To make it efficient with the right ideology, will, and intention is another. Curbing the peril of corruption in the context of sports is also highly relevant to optimally utilise the sports and youth welfare budget funding.

Building a culture of sports scholarship at a state-city-university level is also necessary to attract more hidden sports talent in India. The right political motivation can inject just the necessary boost in those future Olympians to achieve their sporty dream.

For this to happen, there is a burning need for a political leader who has been both, an educationist and youth welfare activist himself.