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Goa’s sports story needs a spruce up

Jayesh Churi and Neha Kalangutkar

The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and commonly known as Tokyo 2020 or the ‘Recovery Olympics’, is an upcoming international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan, with preliminary events in some sports beginning on July 22.

The 2020 games will be the second of three consecutive Olympics to be held in East Asia, the first being the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, and the next being the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China

Tokyo was selected as the host city during the 125th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 7, 2013. This will be the second time that Japan and specifically Tokyo has hosted the Summer Olympic Games, the first being in 1964, making it the first city in Asia to host the summer games twice.

These games will see the introduction of new competitions, including 3-on-3 basketball, freestyle BMX and Madison cycling, as well as mixed events under new IOC policies that allow the host organising committee to add sports to the Olympic programme to augment the permanent core Olympic events. The games will see karate, climbing, surfing and skateboarding make their Olympic debuts, as well as the return of baseball and softball for the first time since 2008.

The Olympics is the biggest sporting event. It is undoubtedly the largest sporting event, and every sportsman has harboured a dream to participate in the Olympics.

India’s performance in the Olympics needs to be viewed from all angles. It is indeed a proud moment for us to see our sportsmen representing our country at the Olympics. But it is a little disappointing to see only a few participants from our country and a comparatively smaller team.

For this reason I feel the government must take the initiative to encourage more participants from every state to be represented at national level. India has a pool of talented individuals and they need to be recognised and given proper training by trained experts. Olympic winners namely Abhinav Bindra, Sakshi Malik, Dhyan Chand, PV Sindhu, Vijender Singh, Mary Kom, etc are just a handful compared to our large scale population and the expected youth count. We have to encourage more youngsters to come forward and participate. India has merely won 28 medals (nine gold, seven silver and 12 bronze) in total at the Olympic Games which is dismal. Among the 206 participating nations, India ranked 17th on the medals tally (2009).

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra won gold in the men’s 10-metre air rifle event becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games while Vijender Singh got the country’s first Olympic medal in boxing with his bronze medal in the middleweight category.And when it comes to our state Goa, there are just a few sportspersons who have represented our country at the international level, namely, Bhakti Kulkarni (chess), Ivana Furtado (chess), Talasha Prabhu (swimming), Natasha Palha (tennis) Bruno Coutinho, Brahmanand Sankhwalkar (football).

Reviewing the numbers of representatives at the international level we can conclude that our country lacks a proper sports vision. There seems to be little to no importance given to sports, and the sports culture is pitiable. Sports are simply seen as a leisure activity. The gravity and significance of sports is lost among students. We have big names in the corporate sector that support young talent in Goa – but is it enough?

The importance of sports has to be instilled in students right from school level and not just as a mere hobby but as a potential career path. Students must be inspired with patriotism and the need to represent the country at the international level.

Society, as well, is in dire need of an attitude change. Young and old, everyone should recognise the importance of sports and consider representing the country as a proud achievement. And to implement this, parents need to be supportive if their children are inclined towards sports.

The role of sports associations and clubs is nurture talent at the local level. But a number of question arise. How many associations are active in fulfilling this role? Does the Sports Authority of Goa ensure that local talent is nurtured? Or are we content with only organising events without medals. Is there a proper method by which we measure the performance of a team? What about the Goa Olympic Association? What role do they play in promoting sports and games in the state? What about the infrastructure? The time to introspect and figure out a solution is now.

Due to unavailability of infrastructure in Goa for sports such as yachting, fencing, canoeing and shooting some teams are forced to be trained outside state. This should be noted by the government and proper planning must be undertaken, wherein the funds allocated by the government for sports must be used wisely and efficiently.

Additionally, we must strive to cultivate a sport culture. A sports academy at the taluka level must by introduced wherein students can be trained under a professional trainer. These students can then be sent to play at national and international level. Moreover, the functioning of the academy has to be evaluated every three years at least. Only then will we see progress in the state of sports in Goa.

It is unfortunate that a country with a billion people has only produced a few world-class sportspersons. In short, India’s performance at the Olympics needs to be revived with a ‘sports vision’ in mind. We have a lot of expectations from our country, this year.

(Writers are faculty members at Sridora Caculo College of Commerce and Management Studies, Mapusa.)

A scientific conference on Physical Education and Allied Sciences: Holistic Development for Excellence in Sports Performance and Well-Being is currently being held till February 29. The Navhind Times is the
media partner for the event.

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