The Olympic finalists to get the first installment of the prize money before the event so that players from financially deprived backgrounds should not face issues in their preparations.
Sports to Haryana is what Art is to France & Italy. Consistently adding to the medal tally of India, the sports players of this state have been exceedingly doing their best but still some issues need to be addressed.
Haryana First spoke to Haryana Sports Minister & two time Olympian Sandeep Singh on the range of issues. Speaking freely, the former Indian Hockey Captain Singh shares the blueprint of transforming sports in Haryana once and for all.
HF: For the first time Haryana has a former Olympian, International Hockey player as its Sports Minister, what new sports policies are in your mind that can change the outlook of sports?
Sports Minister: The most important thing is respect to a Sports player. They should get their due respect, their awards and rewards on time without any hurdle in between. I am focusing my energy in that direction to streamline the system and to make it pro-players. It happened in the past that stadiums were constructed in rural areas to encash vote bank but there was no provision made for its maintenance. The sports department now is working to have the Players facilities and coaches to train them properly. Thankfully, the Chief Minister is taking keen interest in the demands of Sports Players. After I got the charge as Sports Minister, I raised the daily diet allowance. The Olympic finalists would get the first installment of their prize money before the event so that players from financially deprived backgrounds should not face issues in preparations. I have also tightened the noose over absentee coaches who used to mark their attendance without coming to the playground. By working on these things, the quality of sports has improved and the players have gained confidence to better their achievements. I come from a sports background so I am ensuring that a player should not be made to make rounds of government offices for his/her due. There is a system now in place where a player gets his due without being discriminated against or ignored or forgotten. He/She better should focus on clinching medals for the country.
HF: There are so many kids working day in and day out. Any sports calendar for the age group of 9 to 11 years & 13 to 17 years because they need maximum promotion?
Sports Minister: For the budding sports players, the state government has a concept of nurturing talent and to promote them, competitions are held from time to time. Now, in a pandemic period, the nurseries are set up in schools and all the schools are closed down as per government orders. I am working on finalizing the calendar and activities for the younger lot. There were several things for them but due to COVID-19, they are now on hold and some of the key announcements for their welfare are in the pipeline. I will get them rewards for their promotion. Even Chief Minister is also of the opinion that sports players should keep getting motivation and their achievements should be rewarded from time to time. The state government has a policy in place to promote the talented players right from block level to district level and so on. They will get competitions, facilities and support from the government in future.
HF: State Mahakumbh was a good initiative for promoting sports events as started by your government but don’t you think that the prize money is very less in the present scenario and it should be increased?
Sports Minister: Certainly, Mahakumbh was a great idea and it promoted the talent in sports and now, I have planned to get events like Mahakumb on a much bigger level and more organised. In Mahakumbh several games were associated and many players of different game got the chance to showcase their talent. Now, bigger and better things are in our planning for the sports players. About the prize money, I am working on that itself rigorously. Prize money does not matter much. The more important thing is to give sports players competitions and through competitions prepare them for delivering achievements for the nation. The prize money for players have also got hiked in the past as well and it will be increased in future too as the requirement comes. Our main aim is to give maximum facilities to the players.
HF: Many players leave sports because of financial problems as earlier we have Speed/ Spat programmes running in our state. So can you introduce any monthly scholarship scheme for upcoming players which can be a great financial help to the deserving players?
Sports Minister: As far as sports players of state level or national level or those who play at international level, they keep getting cash awards from time to time. There are government schemes in place for supporting them through their cash awards etc. Those who play at any level and give performance are suitably awarded under different schemes of the state government. But, there are some players who don’t have any achievements and they have to shun their sports career due to lack of financial support. I am thinking of devising a plan for them so that their sports are not left due to this problem.
HF: Players suffer so many injuries due to lack of physiotherapists at our centers and private ones are very costly, can you introduce a scheme where we can have at least one govt. Physiotherapist at each district headquarter?
Sports Minister: Chief Minister has a vision of developing four rehab centers for players in Haryana. Starting from Panchkula to other districts these rehab centers would have all the facilities that a player with injury needs. It is a big project and state-of-the-art facilities would remain available there. It would be open for players who represent India outside and for the state players who undergo any type of injury period. After these rehab centers come in place, the players won’t have to run hither-thither for treatment and they would get all those facilities under one-roof. The Chief Minister has a vision that the rehab centers of a very big size that can be found in developed countries be set up in the state. The Haryana would be divided into four zones where respective districts would be attached with these rehab centers accordingly so that all can avail the facilities near to them.
HF: Still there are a lot of problems with good toilets at various sports stadiums across the state, can we have at least one Sulabh Shauchalaya with sweeper and attendant at each centre across the state?
Sports Minister: The state government has passed a budget for the construction and repair of the toilets at the stadium. Wherever necessary, either the existing toilets would be repaired and make it workable or new ones would be there if it is not there. The players; male or female would not be made to suffer because of lack of toilets now. We were to start working on this project but it has been delayed due to COVID-19 situation. As the situation normalizes, the work on this front would be started. Shulab Shauchalya like concept cannot work in sports setup as we don’t want him to spend money if he comes to the stadium. He should better focus in time and energy on enhancing his performance.