January 30, 2017 7:57:23 pm
India’s lone Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra and national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand on Monday found a place in an eight-member Task Force of the Sports Ministry to draw up an action plan for the next three Olympic Games.
Just days after the end of the Rio Olympics, where India won just two medals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the setting up of a task force which will help plan for the “effective participation” of Indian sportspersons in the next three Olympics — in 2020, 2024 and 2028.
Bindra, Gopichand and former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha were the only three former sportspersons named in the task force. The other five members of the task force are School Sports Promotion Board head Om Pathak, hockey coach S Baldev Singh, who runs an academy in Shahabad, G L Khanna (Professor and Dean of Exercise and Physiology at Manav Rachna International University at Faridabad), journalist Rajesh Kalra and Sports Authority of Gujarat Director General Sandeep Pradhan.
Announcing the task force, Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters that “the tenure of the committee will be for three months or till the time it submits its report”.
He said the job of the chairman of the committee will be given on rotational basis while Pradhan will be the convener.
The main job of the task force will be to suggest a comprehensive action plan including short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for effective participation of Indian sportspersons in the next three Olympic Games. Other points included in the terms of reference were to suggest effective methods to identify core probable/medal prospects for 2020 Olympics, their coaches and support staff; to suggest effective talent identification system for 2024 and 2028 Olympics; to identify components of world class support system for elite sportspersons and ways to significantly improve standards of coaching; to suggest ways to create and upgrade sports infrastructure necessary to train top-level athletes and to make suggestion regarding foreign training and exposure of top-level athletes.
Asked to whom the task force will submit its report, Goel said, “The report will be submitted to Sports Ministry. But since the Prime Minister has approved the committee, the final report will be submitted to the PMO.”
Asked why there were no representatives from some Olympic medal-winning sports, he said, “This task force is not a representative body where people of several disciplines will be there. This task force is open for all, whoever wants to give ideas, he can give.
“If I start including people discipline-wise, so many names will come up and there will be no end. This committee can call any expert, Indian or foreigner, coaches or former sportspersons in various fields. Anybody can give suggestions to this task force and moreover anybody can come and give the suggestion directly to the Sports Minister.”
Goel said all the suggestions and recommendations of the task force will be applied to Asian Games and Commonwealth Games also. “This task force will basically recommend what would be the best practises for the preparation of the next three Olympics and so these can be implemented to Asian Games and Commonwealth Games also,” he said.
Asked if the government will help 1998 Asian Games gold medallist boxer Dingko Singh, Goel said, “We have been constantly helping him and we will give more help. We have spoken to him. He applied for Rs 50,000 and we gave him. If he sends the bills to us, we will reimburse them. But there is process and system in the government, he has to apply.
“The ministry is not in a position to know what is happening to sportspersons, active or former, all the time. We come to know about them sometimes from media reports or sometimes from other sources. Till the time we are not told or no demand comes from the sportspersons, we cannot help them,” the minister said.
Goel also revealed some significant initiatives and changes to be made in the existing programmes and in the implementation of the Sports Code. He said the earlier practice of sportspersons under the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme choosing the training venue and schedule on their own, will be reviewed.
“The TOP Committee will select medal prospect athletes and plan for their training. Recently, we have re-constituted the TOP Committee. It will identify around 100 top athletes and they will start preparations for both the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.
“This TOP Committee will decide whether we will have individual athlete-based or programme-based approach in future. Earlier, individual athletes go for training according to their choice but we are now going to see whether it can be changed, deciding where and how the athletes will train. Of course, we will consult the athletes,” Goel said. He added that the TOP Committee will submit a report in two months.
Goel said the ministry will start a talent identification programme for youngsters of 8-year-old or below. “We will give scholarships to these children for 5-8 years, so that they can train continuously. We will finalise the amount but it can be Rs 5 lakh to 1000 children.”
The minister also said that the Committee constituted recently to review the Sports Code will decide some important issues, including whether the Lodha Committee recommendations can be applied to National Sports Federations. “Sports Code review committee will submit a report within one month. It will study the Lodha Committee recommendations and suggest whether they can be applied to National Sports Federations (NSFs) after their consent.
“The committee will also look into whether the Sports Code will be applied at the state and district levels, and whether it will be applied to only the president and secretary of NSFs or should it be extended to all other office bearers,” said Goel.
“The government does not want to infringe on the autonomy of NSFs but they are slowly starting to understand that they have to function with accountability and responsibility,” he added.
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