Indian sports has taken a great leap in the past decade, mostly because of improvement in infrastructure and technology. While it still has a lot of distance to cover, the good news is that India is headed in the right direction.
The Drum spoke to Vijay Goel, India's minister of youth affairs and sports who revealed innovative digital methods the Indian sports ministry is adopting to power sports in the country and internationally.
What is your vision when it comes to marketing Indian sports within the continent and globally?
India has always been leading the continent and, as you may be aware, the first Asian Games were conceptualised and held in India. Indian Martial Arts – judo, karate etc have become not just continental games, but being played across the world now. We aim to empower Indian sports through sports tourism as well.
You held the office 12 years back. How much has Indian Sports evolved?
During this period, many developments have taken place. Today, sports is not fun but serious business. You need sports scientists, coaches and other key support staff and continuous research for improvement in performance and techniques.
Why should global sports organisations invest in India?
India has successfully organised two editions of the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, and slowly the culture of sports is developing and the leagues in many sport disciplines like kabaddi, wrestling etc have generated interest among masses. Therefore, India is the next bright spot in global sporting arena. In near future, we will look forward to organise sports conclave in India and will invite people within the sports realm from all over the world.
Tell us about the search portal which you are planning to launch.
The Sports Ministry Talent Search Portal is aimed at giving an opportunity to talented sports persons and to tap talent at the grassroots level. A talented child doesn’t have to come to the officers. In fact, the officers will knock on their doors if they are found to be meeting the benchmark as per information/video submitted on the portal. It will thereafter be the responsibility of Sports Authority of India (SAI) to provide him/her training, boarding/lodging facilities and competition exposure.
FIFA World Cup under 17 is happening this year. How can India bring in more prestigious tournaments and events?
For the first time FIFA World Cup U- 17 is happening in India through which we will touch 50 thousand schools (Mission XI Million children). Through FIFA World Cup U-17 we will establish that we are best in organising international events. Allotment of a mega event to a country/city rests with the concerned International federation. I have told the IOA to ask the National Sports Federations to bid for international events In India. We have in the recent past organised Asian Wrestling Championship, Asian Hockey Championship, BRICS football Cup etc and in next month we shall be hosting Asian Athletics Championship.
How can we integrate sports in India culturally? There is still a lot of pressure to be doctor, engineer as a young person.
It’s a myth that sports persons cannot pursue their academic career. Many sports persons are engineers like Kumble, Dr. Vece Paes (Leander Paes’ father). Now people have started to recognise the importance of sport and the parents are showing interest to encourage their kids to take up sports to remain fit and pursue it as a career. We are trying to push sports to become a part of curriculum for kids education and we also want to create a sports culture where every kid is involved in one or another sport.
How important is sports in order to raise India's economic profile globally?
Sports is no longer fun, it’s a serious business and looking at the size and population of our country we can, and I’m sure we shall soon, become a sporting superpower which will lead to global investments and creating of sports culture across the country.
Do you think Indian companies invest enough in Sports via their CSR?
Companies have started investment in sports under CSR and I have had meetings with various corporate firms who have shown interest in investing in sports.