Supporting Indian Sports

by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

There is different confidence this time in the country, the performance of Indian athletes in the Tokyo Olympics has demonstrated the new hopes, aspirations, and fighting spirit of this generation of Indians. Our athletes have shown that poor infrastructure, lack of resources, funds, and support will not stop them from giving their best. The onus is on our leadership now, to support our athletes.

The most astonishing performance was of the men and women hockey teams. It reminded the whole nation of the glorious past Olympic performance in this sport. The Bronze medal ended the four-decade-long wait of a podium finish. Women’s team, against all expectations, only missed by a narrow margin. These teams showed that with the right support and coaching they can do wonders and give the most competent top-level teams a run for their money. I have never seen an instance prior to Tokyo Olympics where people were waking up early in the morning to watch a women’s hockey match. For the first time, cricket took a back seat, and games like archery were being closely watched and followed. This public interest is a good sign for our sporting future.

To give credit where it’s definitely due, Naveen Patnaik supported the hockey teams with much-needed funds and resources. Our country needs politicians like him who work silently away from the limelight for the greater good. They let their actions and results speak for themselves and do not have to depend on IT Cells and TV anchors to prove their mettle.

What we need is a systemic review and overhaul of our sports ecosystem if we aim to increase our medal tally in the future. We need to consult sportsmen and athletes both current and former to revamp and improve our system so that athletes can solely focus on sports. We should keep our bureaucrats and politicians away from running sports federations in India, we have seen how that turned out. I am not saying that there are no good initiatives but our red-tape system is a drag on sports and sportsmen of this country, this has to change.  We should also incentivize sports among youngsters who are trapped in a bubble of becoming Engineers, MBAs and Doctors. The country’s potential should not be lost in competitive exams. Sports should not be a stigma.

Unfortunately, because of our short-lived public memory. The Olympics will fade away from memory in few weeks but at least the interest that sports like hockey, javelin throw, and wrestling have generated will remain with the public. Our encouragement will motivate our athletes to perform better. Let us keep the flame burning.

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