We are all familiar with big names like PV Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Jwala Gutta, Saina Nehwal and Sunil Chetri. These are just a few of the thousands of Indian sportspersons.
What is that one thing that is common with all their journeys? Lack of support. I have no intentions of saying that the various sports councils do not support these players, because they are the ones managing these champions now.
I’m talking of support in their initial training years, when they were just boys and girls with a lot of talent and will to work hard. Do you think the aforementioned names, and a few others we know, are the only big players worth becoming champions in this country?
Statista, a statistical analysis website, shows about 30 different sports that India has regular participation in. Majorly, cricket has 12.82% participation, badminton has 9.39%, cycling, running and football follow next, and the numbers just keep tumbling from swimming, basketball, table tennis, etc.
These demographics are not constituted by big players. Most of these regular participation players do not even come in the news and we hardly know about them.
For instance, Makhan Singh is a name we hardly hear about. But did you know that he beat Milkha Singh too?
Condition Of Sportspersons In India
Jwala Gutta, badminton champion, said in an interview with Economic Times,
“All the support comes after you have won something big, while it is needed before that. And then it is a question of your ability to do PR. The ones with good PR grab all the rewards.”
How sad is it, that we are fame hungry, even in activities like sports which uplifts the lives of many? There is even a gender discrimination according to Gutta. If you think this is sad, imagine the fact that Saina Nehwal was not given her cash award of 2012 Olympics till late 2014.
I stumbled across a video on Facebook the other day where Indian skipper Mithali Raj spoke of the same aspect. Until we as players win something for India at a big stage, we are not going to receive the support, and that is a fact in this country.
From personal experience, I have attended many national camps till date. I was one of the top 5 players in the batch of 50 in a camp once, and yet someone much worse than me was selected for my position in the team.
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That is because, the player who got selected, was a senior coach’s son. For a complete month, I practiced hard, fought with my parents to let me go to the national camp, and at the end, I came back home empty handed.
This also comes under support – lack of support is one aspect, unnecessary support to those who aren’t worth it, is also wrong.
What Is Needed For Indian Players
The first and foremost thing required for Indian players is access to resources and equipment at a low cost. More government sports centres need to be built around the country for budding champs to use.
A strict monitoring system for coaches involved in corruption and corrupt decisions should be established. Players who do not have a backing and a lot of money should be able to make their way to the top-level teams too.
The way the Army conducts rallies called “bharti” to select soldiers from every corner of the country, sports councils should identify talented and hard-working individuals from streets and villages too, in the same manner.
That way, we will not have any player left out. China or the USA will not be leading in the medal tally anymore, and we will have the best possible players in the country playing for the national teams, instead of ministers’ children and those with recommendations.
Sports is a very humble profession which changes people’s lives. Corrupting that, and not giving support to young players who want to represent the country, and not themselves, is a way of spilling water over their hard work.
We Indians can change this scenario, only if we are willing to. A tree cannot grow suddenly out of nowhere. It starts from the soil and every single day its roots need to be watered. Players are the same. Their roots need to be nurtured.
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