Finally, at a public function with big fanfare chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and sports minister Anil Vij released the new sports policy -- ‘Haryana Physical Activities and Sports Policy-2015’ -- on Monday.
Before making a comparison with the previous policy, it is important to mention what all has transpired in the field of sports in the past two-and-half-months of the newly-elected BJP government. Since November 1, the kitchen of the so-called world-class state-run boxing and athletics academy in Bhiwani is closed, as the supply of ration was stopped by the grocery store due to non-payment of dues since June 16, 2014. And later on, the sports department was forced to disband both the academy and nursery.
Last month, Khattar made an announcement to increase the monthly scholarship -- meant for the refreshments after the training sessions -- from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000, for the 885 state and national medallists training at the 56 sports wings across the state. The announcement also got a place in the new sports policy. But the hard fact is that since April last year, the players have not got a single rupee in the name of the monthly stipend.
To know the status of the basic facilities at the district level stadium, why to go too far. The pole vault pit (in pic) in the Panchkula’s Tau Devi Lal Stadium, which is hardly 13 km from the Haryana civil secretariat, tells everything. A national medallist pole vaulter of the state-run athletics academy in Panchkula injured his back while training on this pit. Six months later, the vaulter is still to recuperate from his injury.
It’s not that only the BJP government is to be blamed for depriving the players of the basic facilities, but even under the previous Congress regime, the sports at the grassroot level was ignored. So, the way the BJP government has failed to look into the basic needs of the players in the two-and-half-months of coming into power, it seems that during this period the entire sports department was only busy in doing the paper work of the new sports policy.
Coming up with the new policy is not an achievement in itself, but the real challenge in front of the government is its implementation.
The cash incentives for the international medals have been increased. For winning a gold medal in the Asian Games, the cash award has been increased from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore. An international reputed player jokingly pointed out that with such a hefty cash incentive, the players might now focus on winning medals in the Asian Games rather than at a much tougher platform like Olympics.
Increasing the cash award is not sufficient to boost the sports culture in the state. But what the state requires are coaches, proper equipment and basic infrastructure at the village level.
The previous government constructed a block level stadium -- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Parisar. And now this one wants to build a two-acre stadium in every village. But the sorry state of the block-level stadiums makes the picture clear.
The initial thrust should be on utilising the existing infrastructure. And the sports ground of the government school in villages can be used. But it needs a physical training instructor (PTI) in every school and then its monitoring and what they will do when there are no basic sports equipment in rural areas.
So, rather than hogging the media attention by making big announcements and lucrative cash incentives, what will serve the state sports will be a little more attention at the grassroots.