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Big ambitions, dubious funding

October 31st, 2007 by melvej · 2 Comments

Bringing sports to the masses has become a key issue in India. A new policy with ambitions of getting India onto the world-map sport-wise within the next decade is in the make. The initiative is welcomed, but is also criticized for lacking the funds needed to fulfill the ambitions.

Under half of the schools in India have access to playfields. And facilities like indoor halls etc are even sparser. Furthermore the amount of facilities have dropped within the last 5 years and currently it is less than 10 percent of the people under the age of 35 who have access to playfields or other facilities. Bringing sport to the masses is a general problem in India, but the government has taken the first step on a steep road attempting to get the masses to participate in sport, and improve the conditions for upcoming top-athletes as well.

Earlier this year a draft version of a national sport policy aiming to improve the conditions was made public from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport, and the public was incited to make suggestions on handling the issue. In mid October the policy was approved and the initiatives will benefit millions of people throughout India if carried out as planned.

Kaveri Prakash, Student at Sophia College in Mumbai and former athlete attended the Play The Game conference to present her views on the actions taken to improve both facilities and mentality toward sporting activities in India. According to her the policy is a step in the right direction but hardly realistic to adopt:
“The biggest hurdle in my opinion will be the funding, as I really doubt there is sufficient money to make the ambitions come true”, Kaveri Prakash says.

Even though more money than ever is being spent on promoting sports, the money earmarked for sports only makes up 0.07 % of the union budget and according to Kaveri Prakash it is insufficient to fulfill the policy:
“Insufficient but understandable when you think of all the other extensive problems with funding in the healthcare and educational sector”, Kaveri Prakash says.
Even though the percentage is small it has to be mentioned that the amount is a huge improvement compared to earlier investments.

Carrying out the policy will not be an easy task, as there are numerous problems to attend. The above mentioned lack of facilities is only one of them. Also the lack of coaches and their poor training is a problem yet to be solved. In particular the lack of female coaches is a problem according to Kaveri Prakash as a lot of females claim to be sexual harassed by their male coaches. The people outside the educational system will be hard to reach as well.

The Indian Olympic Association have not at any point been positive toward the policy either, as they also claim that there is inadequate funding for carrying out the ambitions, but in general the government have been giving credit for the steps taken, and in particular for the transparency and the way they approached the issue in general.

If the government will succeed it’s plans is yet to be determined, but acknowledge of the problem could very well be the first step on the road to better conditions for both recreational and professionals athletes in India.

Read the policy here

Tags: Conference News · Theme: Children in sport

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