Central aid to tap sporting talent on cards

New Delhi, Jan. 15 -- Talented young sports persons would now get government assistance to hone their skills to compete in international events including Olympics and win laurels. The first fillip to the directive came from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Monday, which asked the sports ministry to launch talent hunt to scout for young sportsperson who can be trained to eventually increase India's medal tally by 2020.

The principal secretary to the PM, Pulak Chatterjee, reportedly told sports ministry officials to execute a plan in specific time-frame to spot the talent at ground level and provide national and international exposure to them. This is in line with a blue-print prepared by the PMO to make India a recognisable force in sports.

The PMO has also asked the sports ministry to hold competitions at district, state and national levels to pick the talented and ensure that they get financial aid from the government in form of a scholarship or free education plus sports training.

The ministry has initiated a plan to admit the talented young sports persons to specialised sports training schools under the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan in all 640 districts of the country.

The government plans to fund 75% of the total cost for constructing school buildings in 272 backward and naxal-affected districts. The remaining part of the funds should be provided by the state governments.

In other areas, the ministry wants to build schools in partnership with private players such as Mittal Foundation.

The government also plans to upgrade 24 centres of Sports Authority of India (SAI) into centres of excellence to provide specialised training.

"We have prepared a work plan to make sports integral part of school curriculum and a career option," a senior official said, adding paramilitary forces and army will be asked to hire sports persons as a policy.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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