It is heart-warming to watch the state of sports improving in our country but what is its growth rate and what has led to the sudden spurt of enthusiasm encompassing it? Sports is emerging in India and the youth are growing conscious and aware of its diversity. The Indian culture has been obsessed with cricket since ages and the fixation on cricket thrives on its popularity. The government has begun supporting teams across various sports funding their travel, stay and equipment costs. The viral video of National Football team captain and striker Sunil Chettri struck a chord with people globally where he urged Indians to not just support and encourage international teams but also to visit and cheer our home team. The recent win of Hima Das at the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championships in Finland was a moment of pride for all Indians and sports lovers alike.
Das is the first Indian to have bagged a gold in a track event at the global level. “When you all were sleeping, I rocked the world”, she said to her father after her iconic win at the 400m event. After her short stint with football, she shifted to athletics. She was an inspirational figure in her village Dhing in Assam even before her victory. She took the lead in demolishing country liquor vendor businesses in her village and its neighbouring areas. She was fondly addressed as ‘Dhing Express’ by the people in her village. In an interview conducted shortly after her win, she was asked about her struggle and she spoke in broken English on which she was mocked by the AFI (The Athletics Federation of India). The AFI was slammed and faced major backlash for the insensitive statement. Outraged fans demanded an apology in chaste Hindi from the government body as well. The question that arises here is why is a person’s command and fluency over a language a measure of his/her ability and talent? In India, it’s not uncommon to judge a person by his fluency over the English language. We tend to measure intelligence with a medium of communication. Hima Das has garnered support by the government till Tokyo 2020 Olympics when it was initially granted only till the 2018 Asian games.
India ranks third in the world in the cricket arena and first in women’s compound archery. In recent events, young Indian shooter Elavenil Valarivan broke the world record and won the gold medal in 10m women’s air rifle event in the junior ISSF World Cup. Neeraj Chopra, India’s javelin star struck Gold in the Meeting International de Scottville-Les-Rouen in France. Where Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat bagged a gold at the Spanish Grand Prix in Madrid, Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian to bag a gold in the vault event of the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup.
Contrary to the notion formed after successive wins in various sports, India is still in a very nascent stage on its path to brilliance. A player requires much more than monetary incentive to perform. He requires adequate nutritional supplements, training facilities and travel allowances. While we are aware of the grants given to national and level players representing our country at an international level, we must also be aware of the kind of treatment out state-level players receive. A lot of players from small states come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and cannot afford the basic equipment and gear charges. To top that, state players are even compelled to deposit one-third of their income to the state. The justification given for this act is that this money will solely be used for development of sports by the State Sports Council.
What we lack as a country is a support and encouragement for sports. The importance given to academics must be tantamount to extra-curriculars and sports. The avenue of sports has been left unexplored and it’s time to dig deeper into it to discover its true potential. It’s high time we revive the glory of sports. With films like Chak De India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal the audience has been given an insight into the lives of the player but is that all there is to do or must we actually lend our support to national sports?
Picture Credits – The CSR Journal