To make sporting careers a more lucrative prospect in India, the sports ministry has taken the decision to establish 1,000 Khelo India Centres (KIC) at the district level across the country.
Former sports champions, across various categories, will either run these centres or contribute as coaches with an aim to use their expertise in their respective fields.
At these centres, as many as 14 disciplines will be in focus under the Identified Sports for Excellence in Olympics (ISEO), including archery, athletics, boxing, badminton, football, hockey, shooting, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling among others.
Apart from strengthening the grassroots level sports, this decision by sports minister Kiren Rijiju will also provide the national level athletes with a ‘life of dignity and financial stability’.
“As we strive to make India a sporting superpower, one of the things we have to ensure is that sports become a viable career option for youngsters,” he said.
“Only when sports can offer a sustained means of livelihood to athletes, even after they stop playing competitive sports, will parents be motivated to allow their children to take up sports as a serious career option.
“And that is the only way to tap the best talent, who may otherwise decide to take up other career options,” he further detailed
The ministry has set the ball rolling by starting a selection process to identify the former champions eligible to either start an academy or become a coach in the Khelo Indian Centres.
The athletes are divided into four categories based upon their achievements at the international, national, state and university level.
While the first category will have athletes representing India at international competitions, the second category has athletes with medals at the Senior National Championship tournaments or at the Khelo India Games.
Going further down, the third category will have medallists from the National All India University Games and the fourth category will consist of state-level athletes competing at the senior National Championship or the Khelo India Games.
While the process of identifying new Khelo India Centres will start soon, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres, which can also be converted into KICs, can recruit former champions to operate it and avail the financial grants.