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NE can contribute 25-30% of the total medalists in the Olympics: Rijiju

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Shillong, Jan 4:Union Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju today said that Shillong can be developed as a High Altitude Training Centre. He was inaugurating sports facilities at SAI, Training Centre, NEHU Campus here today. During his visit to the centre, he inaugurated a Synthetic Athletic Track and Field and a Synthetic Football Ground. 

 The Minister while appreciating the location for the SAI centre said, “This place is not very high in terms of altitude but sufficient enough to be declared as a high altitude training centre. This is very appropriate and this can be a permanent location. Normally high altitude training centres are temporary in nature but this location is very appropriate to be a permanent centre as well as certain athletes can come here to train at higher altitude”.

Acknowledging the high potential of the centre, the minister said, “We have very few high altitude training centres in India – One in Shilaroo near Shimla, one here in Shillong. We have some locations in South India in Ooty and towards the Nilgiri Hills Side and I am also planning to have few more maybe in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Aizawl cause it also has an altitude”.

 

The centre is equipped with all modern facilities and there is hostel facility also. Therefore, we can have players from States coming for a few periods of time like 1 month, 2 months to make themselves used to the higher altitude training, the minister added. 

Hinting on the huge potential of sports in Meghalaya and the whole of Northeast, the minister said that the country have seen some of the top international level of players from this region. However he acknowledged that due to lack of proper training, the proper scouting of talent at a young age do not happen. This is the reason why the region have not been able to realize the potential. He said that his ministry has set a very clear target that by 2028 Olympics, India should be in the Top 10. To achieve that lots of emphasis have to be given for scouting of young talents. He was very categorical when he said that the 8 States in Northeast can really contribute 25-30% of the total medalists in the Olympics.

The Minister said that with the development of sports, allied industries will also grow and wherever the country progresses more, their progress in Sports also proportionately increases. The more society progresses, the more you will see activities in sports and adventure, he added.

He said that Northeast is gifted in that sense and Meghalaya is one of the finest locations in India and not only in the Northeast. He hinted on his efforts to grant more funds from his other Ministry – Ministry of Minority Affairs. He said that he wanted to use funds from the other Ministry also and therefore Sports have been included in the NEC budget. He said, “So NEC can also sanction money for the Sports & Adventure. It was not there but I have insisted that it must be there because youth and sports activities are crucial so the NEC must do certain funding for inclusion of sports infrastructure”.

We will have a good understanding with the University people so that we can really create this particular facility as one of the centralized excellence in the country. This should be known across the country that it not only has a good climate and facility but the inherent training facility that will be created here, he added.

Later in the day the minister inaugurated launched the Assam Rifles Public School (ARPS) in Shillong as a Khelo India Sports School. At present, 9 Sports Schools have been approved across the country, out of which 5 are managed by Defence & Para-military forces. In the North-east region, Assam Rifles Public School is the first Sports School announced under Khelo India scheme.

The Government shall now bear the expenses for Talented Sports Students of the school in terms of lodging, boarding, education expenses, competition exposure, insurance & medical, sports training & support, salary of coaches & support staff, sports equipment, and more. The objective of a Khelo India Sports School is to integrate sports with education and in the process, develop sports in the country and improve the overall profile and outlook of athletes. This will also help in the identification and upliftment of talent from North-eastern, rural or tribal areas.

“It is a historic beginning of a journey for the Assam Rifles Public School and this Khelo India sports centre will be nurturing young boys and girls, who will in the long run bring medals from the Olympics,” mentioned Shri Rijiju.

The Union Minister also lauded the efforts of Lt. Gen. Sukhdeep Sangwan, Director-General, Assam Rifles, for making several positive changes in the school over the years. “Sport has always been an integral part of this school and they will be producing future champions. I must acknowledge Lt. Gen. Sukhdeep Sangwan for making tremendous changes in this school with the several initiatives taken over the years. The sports school will be an added crown in the achievement of the school and this will be a huge boost to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a sporting powerhouse.”

The Assam Rifles Public School was designated as a Khelo India Sports School because of a good track record in academics & sports, adequate boarding & lodging (hostel) facilities, sufficient space to develop sports facilities and inclination to develop Olympic sports under an inter-ministerial partnership between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The disciplines finalised for the school are Archery, Athletics and Fencing with a total intake strength of 100 athletes (Boys & Girls in equal ratio) for the first year.

Lauding the efforts of the Assam Rifles, Shri Rijiju said that Assam Rifles is not only known for courage and bravery but also for its simplicity and for its sacrifice. He also said, “I’m sure anything associated with Assam Rifles is bound to succeed. Congratulations to the entire Assam Rifles family and my best wishes to the Principal, the faculty members of the school and more importantly the students”.

He elucidated the reasons for the poor performance of the country in Olympics. He said, “It’s not the case that India does not have the talent. We have the potential. There are certain other reasons. The mindset, the attitude of the government and more importantly, the attitude of the society”. Sports was not providing any career earlier. Except for some sports, we could not create talents. “We don’t create talents through system. Sports is tradition. I started taking interest in Sports and thanks to out Prime Minister Modiji, I was given the charge so from Day 1, I realised that we should use all forces to make Sports a tradition”, he added.

ITBP and Assam Rifles have come forward to create talents for at the grassroots. The Assam Rifles Public School is a primary sector because this a school where we will nurture young boys and girls who want to become world champions, he added. And when we have set our agenda, India will have to be in the Top 10 of Olympics. The minister explained his preparation for the Olympics as he said , “When I declare that India will be in the Top 10 of the 2028 olympics, I did certain calculations. I talked to some people. Some of the experts, sports managers, then I used my own experience, my own will…It started from 2016. The potential Olympian gets money and their trainings are made free. Everything is free. We provide everything. We have identified 400 till now”.

 

Stressing on the need to create sports facilities, the minister said that small countries with populations of just 26 lakh wins in the Olympics. He said, “It’s because a young boy or girl stood up for the right thing at the right time. Professional training comes much later. First you have to identify the champion. Sports facility is the main issue. Stadiums come much later. Sports facilities are primary. Assam Rifles Public School Sports Centre will be the foundation. We can bring out champions from here. Most importantly, we should be able to produce more Indian Coaches.”

He concluded his address by his assurance to provide top class coaches from the Sports Authority of India and that more funds will be provided for enhancing the facilities to the international standard.

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