With 13 gold medals in their kitty, Indian sportspersons continue to showcase their spectacular performances in the ongoing 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou. Undoubtedly, the games brought various sports into limelight and provided them the much-needed attention. In a country where cricket still rules and cricketers are worshipped by fans, the dazzling performance in a sport other than cricket is a positive sign. It is an indication that the cricket no longer would reign supreme in Indian hearts in the years to come. However, the fact that such a populous and progressive India, being one of the biggest countries in Asia, had little to boast of its achievements as it continues to clinch the eighth spot in the medal tally. It should have ringed an alarm bell for the government to address the cause of promoting sports.
It is high time India shed the attitude which assesses their success only by technological leaps and considers sports as a deterrent to the academic progress of a student. Parents are still reluctant to encourage their children to take up sports as a full-time profession. Instead, they take pride in pressurizing them to become engineers and doctors. A sport is perceived as a relatively unstable profession. Consequently, aspiring sportspersons are compelled to take it up only to the extent of a hobby.
Inadequate sport facilities like shortage of sport training personnel, deplorable conditions of grounds, mismanagement of sport academies and financial hindrances ail Indian sports. There is an urgent need to segregate the management of sports from politics and entrusting the former to an autonomous body comprising competent sports personnel.
However, the role of government in overcoming these hindrances is pivotal in this regard. It should take up sports in every nook and corner of the country. There is a need to set the target of providing a certain minimum standard of sports facilities in every state. Being a national sport, hockey deserves special attention. How many of us actually know that it was the hockey team which brought laurels to India in the 1958 Olympics? Though it is understandable that sports projects require huge investment, it is here that the role of corporate sector becomes instrumental. Undertaking sports projects by means of an MoU between government and corporate is a viable option. Sport companies should look out to sponsor prospective sportspersons and help them tide over financial difficulties.
Indian sport also experiences dearth of training personnel and experts in sports science. There is a need to focus on helping the players to cope up with injuries and providing a physiotherapist and coach for every sport team. Visits by international players should be encouraged so as to foster interaction with foreign sports personnel. This would surely enhance the sporting standards in our country.
The role of media cannot be ruled out. Over the years, the media coverage has been partial as it has brought only few players to limelight. For instance, how many of us even know the names of women Indian tennis players except Sania Mirza? Inadequate media attention has largely left Indian public ignorant of sports like squash, table tennis, rowing, archery, and gymnastics. It is pitiable that most of us do not take interest in watching hockey matches which happens to be our national sport.
The 2012 Olympics are not far away and preparations are already underway. The coming years definitely hold promises of better performances provided that we take up the initiative to address the cause of sport promotion. It is only then that India can hope to lead the medal tally along with the likes of China and U.S.A.