Sports Ministry gives go-ahead to make Tatya Tope Stadium a Khelo India Centre in Madhya Pradesh; Ankit Sharma lauds move

New Delhi: The Sports Ministry has approved to make the Tatya Tope Nagar Stadium in Bhopal a Khelo India Centre, at a cost of Rs 40 Lakhs. It will cater across four districts. Setting up of KICs in Madhya Pradesh is part of the larger plan of the Sports Ministry to open 1000 new KICs in all states and UTs, with at least one KIC in each district of the country. The decision was taken in June 2020.

The districts include Datia, Morena, Sagar and Dewas which will focus on the sporting disciplines of Rowing, Athletics, Hockey and Badminton respectively. With this, the total number of KICs in the country stands at 360. The KICs have been launched by the Sports Ministry in partnership with the state governments to ensure the availability of grassroots-level sports infrastructure across the country.

Speaking about the decision, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports says, “It is our endeavour to make India one among the top 10 countries in the 2028 Olympics. To fulfill this goal we need to identify and nurture a large number of talented sportspersons from an early age. With the availability of good coaches and equipment facilities at the district-level Khelo India Centers, I am confident that we will be able to find the right children for the right sport and at the right time.”

Lauding this initiative taken by the Sports Ministry to further strengthen the sports ecosystem across the country and Madhya Pradesh in particular, Rio 2016 Olympian Ankit Sharma said, “It’s a great feeling to see such kind of developments happening in sports. It will be even greater when athletes start getting benefits out of these developments.

“I belong from Chambal belt where there is not even one ground where athletes can go and train. If these infrastructural developments keep on happening, I’ll only get happier and it will be a boost up for the next generation of athletes. When I started out, there weren’t many facilities, financial assistance and even sportspersons weren’t much recognized. However, nowadays, even in the basic level, the athletes are being provided so much. They are being given coaches and so on. The new system developed by Khelo India to create centres across all districts should be consistent and only then, can we see future champions emerging out of these small districts,” added the long jumper.

While providing good quality infrastructure to the sporting talent in the state, the KICs will also act as an employment generator for sportspersons from the state who are not in an active playing career any longer. As part of the partnership with the centre and to be eligible for the grant from the Sports Ministry, the Maharashtra government will have to hire past ‘Champion Athletes’ as coaches and mentors for young trainees at these centers.

The financial assistance will be used for remuneration of the past champion athletes as coach, support staff, purchase of equipments, sports kits, consumables, participation in competition and events.