Over the last decade, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, has undertaken significant initiatives to uplift and promote sports in the country, by implementing various sports promotional schemes.
One of the standout initiatives is the ‘Khelo India’ programme launched in 2018. It supports grassroots sports through financial aid, infrastructure development, and comprehensive training for young athletes, nurturing talent and laying the groundwork for future success. Even in 2023, this scheme continues to be India’s biggest sports development programme, as it received more than 50 percent of the increased allocation of Rs. 723 crore in this year’s budget.
The ‘Fit India Movement’, launched in 2019, emphasizing the importance of physical fitness and encouraging citizens to integrate regular exercise into their daily routine and combat sedentary lifestyles and health issues.
In 2020, a pivotal development came in the form of Khelo India National Sports University in Manipur, the state’s first sports university. This institution is dedicated to sports education, research and excellence, playing a crucial role in shaping the future of India.
The ‘Target Olympic Podium Scheme’ (TOPS), initiated in 2014, identifies and supports potential medal-winning athletes with resources, training, and guidance.
To unearth latent talent, the government introduced the ‘Sports Talent Search Portal’ in 2020. This online platform aims to scout young talents nationwide and equips them with resources and support to nurture their potential.
Sports infrastructure enhancement is prioritized, with investments in stadium renovation and construction, including the establishment of the Khelo India State Centre of Excellence. Financial aid is provided through the ‘National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) Scheme,’ supporting sports-related projects. Specialized coaching centres offer world-class guidance to athletes aspiring for excellence.
The National Sports Talent Search scheme of 2022, aims to identify and nurture sporting talent from across the country. Under this program, eligible individuals have the opportunity to apply online and undergo a selection process, including various tests and skill assessments. Those selected will receive training from sports authorities and have the chance to compete in both national and international sporting events.
Hosting major global events, like the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, furthers India’s aspirations for international sporting recognition, providing a platform for young talents.
Inclusivity has also been a focus, with increased attention on supporting para-athletes. Various schemes and initiatives have been introduced to ensure equal opportunities and success for differently-abled athletes in the world of sports.
Sportsmen in India also receive many benefits from the government. This could range from medals to cash rewards, government jobs, training, scholarships, medical coverage, land allotments, and education quotas to recognize their achievements and promote sports. For example, India’s javelin Olympian, Neeraj Chopra, was given a Rs 6 crore cash reward along with Class-I category state government job. These initiatives aim to encourage athletes, provide financial security, and promote sports development in the country.
The achievements at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics reflects our positive trajectory towards success and recognition on the global stage.