Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday stressed the need for giving a big boost to India-Pakistan sporting ties to restore the pre-eminence of Asian countries in the sports arena.
Speaking at the prize distribution function of the Asia Kabaddi Cup in Lahore, Sukhbir said there was a need to organise sports events between teams of eastern and western Punjab more frequently to give exposure to budding players and nurture them for international experience.
Sukhbir said the time had come for Asian countries to chalk out a collective strategy to hone the talent of its budding players, so that they could be prepared for cut-throat international competition.
Listing the steps taken by the Punjab government to boost sports culture in the state, he stated that during the past five years, 14 stadiums had been built at a cost of Rs 214 crore and most modern sports infrastructure provided to players.
He said the focus was on traditional sports of kabaddi, hockey and football as these were least expensive games and quite popular among the village youth. The deputy CM stated that "by channelling the energy of the youth in the games, we can distract them from drug addiction."
Sukhbir said both Punjabs should collectively work out a mutual exchange programme of expert coaches.
Congratulating the Pakistan team on winning the kabaddi cup, Sukhbir said, "Whosoever wins in India-Pakistan games, it is Punjab that wins." He gave away a prize of Rs 15 lakh to the winning team and Rs 10 lakh to the runners-up Indian kabaddi team.