What ails Indian sports & games??
Notwithstanding the advancement made in other walks of life – important as they are – a certain amount of progress in the field of sports and games especially when benchmarked against some of the developed countries is what proving to be elusive for the Indian community at large. Sports and games do signify and form a vital index of development in an overall arch of progress when viewed from a holistically considered standpoint. In spite of infusing crores of rupees into the making of a good athlete or say a good sprinter the results it seems, are hard to come by. And it has to be admitted that despite all these moneyed endeavours into creating a world-class atmosphere of sports and games, something is amiss in this entire architecture that goes behind the making of a world-class athlete or a sportsperson. Barring the singular exception of cricket which in no way draws global participation, India’s comprehensive retreat into shadows seems to be nearing consummation even from all those fields of sports which she used to dominate, for example, hockey and football. This falling down of the standard in terms of excellence coupled with the shift of emphasis from sports and games have wielded a baneful influence to the sporting fraternity. A close look will reveal multiple faults in this superstructure that houses sports and games. The primary faults that are besetting the Indian sports are as such: infrastructural problem, lack of research in sports psychology and medicine and an absence of state-of-the-art training facilities and proper trainers are some of the problems that need highlighting in this context.
Infrastructural inadequacy right now is the greatest bane that is afflicting the entire sporting community like no other else. A good infrastructure can make anyone reach his/her desired destination or at least can spur anyone to reach his/her destination in a positive way. And an absence of it can act as a negative catalyst in this crucial equation of success and failure in the field of sports and games. Viewed from a holistic point of view a good sporting infrastructure combines every sort of sporting facility including training facilities. Bereft of this we should continue to treat a certain Milkha Singh or a certain P.T. Usha as mere exceptions and not the product of a sustained, systematic effort on nationwide scale. Infrastructural insufficiency when dissected and ramified in a sports-specific manner paints a picture that is abysmally worse. With the possible exceptions of cricket, football and to some extent hockey no other sport in India can boast of a worthwhile infrastructure to date. A proper infrastructure lets the budding and raw talents breed and be bloodied in a proper way. And without this raw talents not only go unnoticed but just stop bubbling out after a certain level.
Lack of advanced scientific research in the field of sports medicine and psychology is another factor that is not only crippling our progress but also points to the unfathomable unawareness that has become a corollary product of our collective inertia in the field of sports and games. Proper research in a sport-specific manner will include research on diet, training and on an array of psychological aspects that an athlete should work on while honing his/her skills in a particular field of sport. We should also remember in this regard that every sport is unique and in that it demands a specific set of skills to be brought into play by the concerned athlete. And without proper research we will not be able to rectify our gaffes or improve upon what we already have in this entire process.
Last but not the least is the inexplicable absence of state-of-the-art training facilities and a pool of well-trained trainers who can impart their knowledge to all those budding athletes in an effective, professional manner. Trainers are the backbones of athletes and without them no pool of athletes, however talented, can succeed.
So, the obvious question is how to improve sports and games in India in a comprehensive and collective manner. The problem is that there is no readymade solution or panacea that will cure all the maladies in a jiffy. At the outset, the infrastructural insufficiency has to be remedied by critically re-examining the success models of different countries- countries that are traditionally strong in some specific branch of sports. So spending and pumping money in a profligate manner will not suffice, we have to ensure that it goes to the right place in the right manner and for the right cause. Also a lot has to be invested behind research on sports medicine and psychology. Collaboration or tie-ups with some of the leading foreign universities or institutes is an absolute must if we are to herald a new dawn in Indian sports and games. Coaches have to be trained and educated not only in India but if the need arises they should be sent to foreign countries for necessary specialization. Equal priority should be given to sporting activities right from the school level by not only introducing but also making sports and games a mandatory subject in the course curriculum. Above all, a supportive atmosphere towards reward and participation should be created across the nation so that sports can claim its rightful place in our society and country.
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