The first-ever Khelo India University Games kick off from today in Odisha’s Bhubaneshwar. None other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the event through video- conference signifies the weightage given to the revival of sporting tradition in this country. It is not a one-off event but among many measures this government has taken to make India a sporting nation.
Khelo India University Games
The event will be of great use in identifying the sporting talents in different categories and nurture them. As many as 3,400 athletes from 159 universities across the country have been given entry in to 17 disciplines, including rugby which is among the six team events.
Among 17 sports one can find archery, athletics, boxing, fencing, judo, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, basketball, football, hockey, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, rugby and kabaddi.
The importance of the first-ever Khelo India University Games was well-described in the words of Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju when he said, “Earlier, the inter-university games did not get government support. It was all self-funded tournaments by the universities in different sports like athletics, football, volleyball and table tennis to name a few. From this year onwards, all universities around the country will get recognised under Associations of Indian Universities and will take part in Khelo India University Games.”
Khelo India Buzz– From School to University
The 1st Khelo India School Games (KISG) 2018 were conducted in 2018 in New Delhi with participation of 3,507 athletes. The 2nd edition of Games, ‘Khelo India Youth Games, 2019’ were conducted in Pune in 2019, and saw the participation of 5,925 athletes. Competitions for the mentally challenged athletes were also organized through Special Olympic Bharat in 2018.
A total of 2,741 young athletes in 24 sports disciplines (including Para sports) have been identified under the Talent Search and Development vertical of Khelo India Scheme. Out of the 2,741 identified athletes, 1,388 athletes opted for residential/ day-boarding training at accredited academies under Khelo India.
In the year 2018, 23 sports events were held in rural and indigenous games such as Sqay, Kho-Kho, Kalaripayattu, Mallakhamb and Roll Ball at 23 different locations across the country as part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ programme which saw the participation of about 1,500 players.
Under the Fit India Movement, all State/ UT Governments have been advised to encourage all schools to provide for regular sports, including a local/ indigenous game, by all students.
Sports for Global Showcase & Individual Development
Under Modi government the twin approach of making India a sporting nation so that it is a force to reckon with globally, and also for the individual goal of keeping fit and healthy is visible.
When India fared badly in the Rio Olympic tally in 2016, PM Modi immediately set up a task force to assess the results. It was not meant for a customary ‘soul searching’ purpose that every system does after a beating, but the mandate was specific. The task force was asked to prepare the roadmap for the next three Olympics-2020 (Tokyo), 2024 and 2028. PM Modi has often exhibited personal interest in promoting sports culture by encouraging and wishing sportsperson on social media.
In 2017, the Cabinet approved revamped Khelo India programme at a cost of Rs 1,756 crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. It is not just about medals but mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual development, community development, and as a way of life.
You may read about it at length in our article India’s Best-Ever Medal Heist in Asian Games – Blood, Sweat and Reform.
The phrase ‘Khelo India’ is living up to its meaning as there has been a great effort to inculcate sporting culture from rural to national capital. The first- ever Khelo India University Games is one bright example in the grand scheme of things in the sporting arena.