Updated: June 20, 2021 9:06:54 am
WHILE FLYING Sikh Milkha Singh worked as the deputy director sport and later director sports and education in the Punjab government for more than 30 years post his retirement from the athletics career, not many know that Singh played an active role in making the games period compulsory in every school in Punjab. Singh, who retired from the post in 1991, had joined the Punjab sports department in 1961 on insistence of the then Punjab CM Pratap Singh Kairon and had left Indian Army to offer his services to Punjab.
“During my time in the Punjab Sports department, a policy which I initiated in the early 1970’s was to make the games period compulsory in every school of Punjab. I had learnt to my horror that since the period came at end of the school day, it was the easiest one to bunk. I sent urgent appeals to the principals and PT instructors throughout the state telling them to ensure that student attend this period,” writes Singh in his memoir The Race of My Life released in 2013.
While the then Punjab CM Pratap Singh Kairon had to request the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to let the Indian Army officials decide on Singh’s early retirement and permission to join the Punjab government, Singh would initially drive from Delhi to Chandigarh daily for a year before he decided to settle in Chandigarh. Apart from introducing sports wings in Punjab colleges, Singh would also introduce the idea of summer camps for players of the state. “The objective of opening up the sports wings was to reach talented youngsters at the village and district levels to encourage them to take sports as a career. Our efforts were rewarded with players like hockey stars Ajit Pal Singh, Surjeet Singh, and athletes like Ajaib Singh and Mohinder Singh Gill coming from such sports wings,” writes Singh.
Singh would also often seek the help of the then Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah in arranging summer camps for players in the hill state apart from seeking the Army’s help in conducting camps in Shimla.
“The summer camps adhere to strict scheduele and my role in the camps was to meet and motivate each individual and to convince them that only hard work, dedication, will power and discipline would lead to their destiny of success,” wrote Singh Singh in his memoir The Race of My Life .
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