The Commonwealth Games have spurred an interest in sporting disciplines other than cricket among Indians, especially the youth, but for parents to think of allowing their children to take up sports as a career is a process that will take time, feel experts. India won 101 medals, including 38 golds, in the Games that ended on Thursday.
Zafar Iqbal, former Indian hockey player, said, “I have already started observing a change in the mindset of people towards sports, thanks to the CWG. Earlier, the outlook was very negative; people wouldn’t support teams that were losing, but now they are more sporting. Now there are fantastic facilities - like the sports stadia - for people to pursue sports.”
Each of the Games sporting venues like Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, Thyagraj Sports Complex, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Talkatora Indoor Stadium, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Siri Fort Sports Complex, R.K. Khanna Tennis Complex and Yamuna Sports Complex were renovated with world class facilities before the Oct 3-14 event.
Rajiv Mehra, a tennis coach in the city, told IANS, "The Games have definitely had a positive impact on the people. Over the past two weeks I have had a lot of enquiries from parents keen to put their kids into tennis -- they are like, ‘Our son can be the next Somdev Devvarman or our daughter can be like Sania’."
Animikha Das, a Delhi University student who took admission in the sports quota last year, is however doubtful if the Games will have a lasting effect. “I am sceptical of whether there will be a changed outlook. I am in my college swimming team and every time there’s a competition, we hardly get support from our own college crowd! Most of us in the team are already taking MBA coaching classes and plan to take up management in the future,” she said.
Atul Khanna, a student and in his college basketball team, is more positive. “My friends who are in the college swimming team already go to the Talkatora stadium for practice,” Khanna said. “But as far as parents encouraging their kids to take up sports as a career is concerned, I don’t think it will be an overnight process,” he added.