Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today announced that his ministry will provide "complete funding" to Hockey India as they prepare for a triple Major next year Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup.
"From here on, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup are all Olympic preparatory tournaments besides being major competitions. The ministry will give complete funding to Hockey India in terms of whatever they need. 2018 is the year of sports in India," Rathore told reporters during a press conference on the sidelines of HWL finals.
Rathore congratulated the young Indian team for retaining the bronze medal in the Hockey World League (HWL) Final.
"In the past few months, our hockey team's performance has been good. In this tournament also, the comeback has been good. Indian team is the youngest in terms of average age, which helps build endurance, speed and bench strength," the Olympic silver medallist said.
Rathore reiterated that the Central Government will do everything possible in its capacity to support the athletes and raise the bar of sports in the country.
"All the schemes until now the focus was on infrastructure funding. It's the easiest thing to do. But how do you bring players to practice in those stadiums. That funding was missing. Khelo India programme is funding those soft sponsorships," he said.
"Every year we will fund 1000 players, give them Rs 5 lakh for the next 8 years and keep adding 1000 every year."
He also said that India is among the top five countries in the world where there are incentives, job reservations, meritorious pensions for deserving athletes.