‘SPORTS MIN­ISTRY IS NOT A PUN­ISH­MENT POST­ING’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Team TOI

Sports fa­cil­i­ties must come up in ev­ery city, rather in ev­ery colony. Sup­pose you are in Mum­bai and want to play, but you can’t be­cause there is no space. We need to cre­ate zonal sports cen­tres. For that cor­po­rates have to come for­ward. Some of the cor­po­rate houses are do­ing ex­ceed­ingly well. I vis­ited the JSW In­spire In­sti­tute of Sports at Vi­jay­na­gar near Bel­lary in Kar­nataka. It is one of the finest sports fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try.

NDTL’s sus­pen­sion came as a big sur­prise to me, but we are hope­ful of set­tling it much be­fore the Olympics. We will also raise the test­ing ca­pac­ity.

iors. I told them, this is not just un­sport­ing and un­sci­en­tific, but in­hu­man too. Logic sug­gests that a 16-year-old wrestler will eat more than a chess player. If he is a weightlift­er, how does age mat­ter? Only nu­tri­tion­ists should de­cide diet.

No other gov­ern­ment gives the kind of money to sports as much as In­dia. But this is just peanuts. In other coun­tries, money comes in vol­umes. The cor­po­rate world, every­body is part of that game. In In­dia, money from cor­po­rates is neg­li­gi­ble. Play­ers are de­pen­dent on gov­ern­ment fund­ing. We give pen­sions to those who have won medals for In­dia; we give al­most 1/3rd of our bud­get goes in pay­ing pen­sions. We want to make sport as a ca­reer and not as a source to earn pen­sion.

We mon­i­tor ath­letes through CCTV cam­eras. Sab­o­tage is a big is­sue as the ri­valry is so in­tense. If there are two box­ers, and one rep­re­sents the coun­try while the other doesn’t, it bec omes a l i f echang­ing mo­ment for the first while the s e c o nd re­mains an un­known com­mod­ity.

Gen­er­ally, every­body wants to take up a role as a fi­nance min­is­ter or rev­enue min­is­ter. Sports is usu­ally treated as a sec­ondary sub­ject. This is a wrong mind­set. I am ab­so­lutely en­joy­ing my sub­ject. My Prime Min­is­ter has been kind to me to give me this min­istry. There was a time when af­ter get­ting sports min­istry, peo­ple said, “Iss se achcha to nahi milta.”

A CEO style of func­tion­ing is OK in a cor­po­rate world. It’s not pos­si­ble in a fed­er­a­tion. We are very clear that ev­ery sports fed­er­a­tion must be run in a demo­cratic man­ner. There must be elec­tions. The mo­ment we men­tion democ­racy and elec­tions, there will be groupism as it is part of democ­racy. My only re­quest is af­ter the elec­tions, don’t cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion that ad­versely af­fects ath­letes.

I had ap­pealed in par­lia­ment not to say ‘ saare fed­er­a­tions chor hai’, as you don’t know any­thing about fed­er­a­tions, you are just mak­ing loose com­ments. Some of the fed­er­a­tion heads have given their lives and used fam­ily re­sources to run them.

Youth Af­fairs and Sports Min­istry have sep­a­rate bud­gets. The main com­po­nent goes to­wards KIG. We have in­te­grated all the ac­tiv­i­ties into KIG. From KIG, we sup­port in­fra­struc­ture. We sup­port the train­ing and we fund ath­letes. The other is the Na­tional Sports De­vel­op­ment Fund (NSDF), where cor­po­rates are re­quired to give funds. We need to match what­ever the cor­po­rates give. I’m not happy. I want to ap­peal to cor­po­rates to come for­ward be­cause our NSDF is dry­ing up. I am a wor­ried man. Most of the for­eign coaches de­mand a salary of Rs 10 lakh per month. Some even de­mand Rs 15 lakh. It’s

ex­pen­sive. We need deeper pock­ets .

(Laughs) But we also have to think about so­cial cul­ture. We can’t get into it. That is not the only way and it is not my way of gen­er­at­ing rev­enue.

I’m right be­hind the In­dian Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion (IOA) and the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (NRAI). They have rightly main­tained that In­dia’s opin­ion was not taken be­fore the de­ci­sion was made to ex­clude shoot­ing. But when it comes to boy­cotting the Games, it is the gov­ern­ment which should take a call.

Yes, we have World Cups, World Cham­pi­onships. And many of them in a year. That is a point to be con­sid­ered but I can­not take a call right now.

It’s very clear. Mul­ti­lat­eral events have their own pros and cons which a gov­ern­ment can’t take a po­si­tion on. But when it comes to bi­lat­eral events, it is com­pletely the gov­ern­ment’s call. We are not go­ing to have any bi­lat­eral sport­ing events with Pak­istan. I’ve clearly told the sports bod­ies not to come to us with any pro­posal of play­ing a bi­lat­eral se­ries with Pak­istan.

Yes. As a city known for its fi­nan­cial strength, it’s un­for­tu­nate when it comes to sport. This is pri­mar­ily be­cause of the lack of sports cul­ture. Mum­bai has its own lim­i­ta­tions ge­o­graph­i­cally. I feel that since many cor­po­rate peo­ple live here, there are lots of re­source­ful el­e­ments in the so­ci­ety. We can con­sider some modal­i­ties (mod­els) to make sure some clas­sic world-stan­dard sports fa­cil­i­ties within iden­ti­fied lo­ca­tions give Mum­baikars more op­por­tu­nity to play and have greater ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties.

We have a huge cen­tre in Kan­di­vli (SAI Com­plex). It’s a huge place but it’s to­tally un­used. It’s un­ac­cept­able. I’m se­ri­ously giv­ing a thought to bring about changes.

We have good ten­nis acad­e­mies in In­dia now. We have to make the child un­der­stand that sim­ply go­ing to the US or Europe will not do un­less you get per­son­alised coach­ing.

From next year, we’re go­ing to have a school games fed­er­a­tion. Ev­ery coun­try has a struc­ture for ev­ery dis­ci­pline. First there are Youth Cham­pi­onships, then Uni­ver­sity Games, then the School Games.

Next year, we’ll ac­ti­vate the school games fed­er­a­tion and youth games fed­er­a­tion. All U-17 play­ers will go to the School Games Fed­er­a­tion and U-21s will go to the Uni­ver­sity Games Fed­er­a­tion.

There are big is­sues. The pro­ce­dures are very com­pli­cated. One test can spoil some­one’s fu­ture. I was told that there were 42 is­sues that were raised. Some of them are dif­fi­cult to com­ply with within a short time. I vis­ited the fa­cil­ity and met all the se­nior sci­en­tists. The 42 pro­to­cols were harsh, I can’t say un­jus­ti­fied. I told them to take steps to com­ply with what­ever was needed to be done.

When we set­tled more than 90% of the is­sues, sud­denly this order came from Wada that our NDTL has been sus­pended. It came as a big sur­prise to me. We are very hope­ful about set­tling the is­sue be­fore the Olympics. We will also raise the test­ing ca­pac­ity from 4,000 to 15,000.

If you see the fit­ness in­dex of our pop­u­la­tion, you’ll find that 70% peo­ple are un­fit. Some­how, we aren’t a fit so­ci­ety. So, we want to make some kind of a uni­ver­sal cam­paign where at least 90% of the In­dian pop­u­la­tion should be fit. When we say fit, we don’t mean that you’re go­ing to a gym, or play­ing sports, but just be­ing phys­i­cally fit. You can do yoga, morn­ing walk, dance…every­thing leads to fit­ness. Look at the bod­ies of the best dancers or cor­po­rate lead­ers. Fit­ness must be­come a cul­ture.

In 2011, when we won the cricket World Cup, peo­ple across the coun­try came out of their homes to cel­e­brate it. I could see the same kind of en­thu­si­asm on Oc­to­ber 2, when we did the in­au­gu­ral plog­gers run. Peo­ple flooded us with mes­sages and mil­lions of pho­to­graphs. Peo­ple were com­ing for the run and pick­ing up plas­tic from beaches, hills and plains. It was the big­gest ever peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion for a civic cause. We must thank the PM (Naren­dra Modi) for in­spir­ing us so much.

In­fra­struc­ture is an is­sue. We won’t be able to (stage games of that level), be­cause Arunachal is quite a big state. The pop­u­la­tion is sparsely dis­trib­uted. So, it’s dif­fi­cult to have one big cen­tre here. But Arunachal will be­come one of the hubs of moun­tain ter­rain bik­ing (MTB). Sal­man Khan came to Arunachal — he’s one of the pro­mot­ers — and is a cy­cling en­thu­si­ast. We’re stag­ing one of the tough­est MTB (races) in the world, in Arunachal in Fe­bru­ary next year. It will be a big event al­most like the Tour de France. Ad­ven­ture sports too are lack­ing in In­dia and we need to pro­mote them.

TALK­ING POINT: Sports Min­is­ter Kiren Ri­jiju at the TOI of­fice in Mum­bai on Satur­day

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