Following the disappointment with India’s performance at the Rio Olympics 2016, The Indian think tank National Institution for Transforming India or NITI Aayog on Wednesday has announced an action plan named “Let's Play” with an aim to improve India’s medal prospects in the future so that the country wins at least 50 medals at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
The 20-point plan highlights some key areas that require improvement. These action points have been divided into a short-term vision (4 to 8 years) and a medium to long-term vision (8 to 15 years).
The plan also aims to initiate larger debate among stakeholders and public at large on how to improve sporting performance in the country.
Announcing the initiative, NITI Aayog tweeted: "NITI Aayog to release 'Let's Play' - An Action Plan for Revitalising Sports in India. Our target: 50 Olympic Medals!"
"We are a large and diverse nation. Sports can be a great means of national integration," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on NITI Aayog's website.
The points include targeting a group of priority sports, organisation of sportspersons into three groups for each priority sport, harnessing the potential of indigenous and regional sports, world class coaches and a grading system for coaches.
Special emphasis will be given to implement the National Sports Code and Sports Bill, to formulate an injury insurance scheme, strengthening and scaling-up of existing Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centres and facilitating creation of sports academies for individual sports among others.
Releasing the document, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the short term and long term targets include winning at least 50 medals at the 2024 Olympics and to tap potential sportspersons from the tender age of eight years.
The panel has also advocated that the age limit for training of sportspersons be lowered from the current 12 years to eight years. Besides, the NITI Aayog has also advocated identifying talent for sports among five-year-old children.
It also felt that a few sports be identified as had been done by Kenya and Jamaica to help Indian young talents to excel.
"To improve the performance of sports and demonstrate medal winning performance, it is important to prioritize ten sports and develop an outcome oriented action plan for each of these sports. Countries like Kenya and Jamaica participate in only two Olympics sports but have managed to get a medal tally of 100 and 78 respectively," a NITI Aayog official said.
In the short term plans, the panel suggests facilitating creation of more sports academies for individual sports, implementing a National Sports Code and Sports Bill and the long term measures include development of sports infrastructure through PPP mode.
NITI Aayog officials said that the National Sports Code and Sports Bill, 2013, which is stuck for a long time, needs to be enacted at the earliest to ensure structural changes in policies concerning sports administrators and the coaches.
The bill seeks to fix terms and tenures of the sports administrators. The bill also seeks to fix age limit of sports administrators, a move allegedly opposed by the political class.
(With inputs from IANS)