After much delay, the cabinet has approved the state's first-ever sports and youth welfare policy. The most significant aspect of the policy is the establishment of a sports university at Thane. On a larger scale, the policy aims at creating basic infrastructure like sports grounds, sports nurseries and training academies at tehsil, district and state levels.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan announced the decision in the state legislative assembly on Friday. For more than two years, legislators across parties have been clamouring for the policy.
Sports experts have demanded that the state make adequate financial provision for implementing the ambitious policy. The policy draft says that the existing state sports council would allocate finances for executing the policy, but did not mention the quantum of funds.
The policy assures sports associations and voluntary groups of support from the government. School sports, so far neglected at the government level, would get a special attention.
Currently, district sport offices and directorate of sport manage school sports in a rather dismal manner and are believed to have been unsuccessful in helping athletes. The new policy hopes to improve technical excellence among trainers, especially physical education teachers in schools and colleges.
The youth welfare policy will focus primarily on building confidence among the youth in rural and urban areas. It envisages using modern science and technology to develop personality.
Experts who worked on the policy were skeptical about desired results. Shatrughan Gokhale, a member of the draft committee, told HT that the policy would get implemented only when the government made financial provisions. “The policy needs a budgetary allocation every year.”
Gokhale said that the government needs to change decisions that are contrary to the sports policy. “The school education department issued a directive that only students who fail in examinations will get 25 marks as grace for excellence in sports. In such a scenario, students will stop pursuing sports.”
Meanwhile, legislator Jeetendra Awhad asked the government to rescue a piece of land reserved for the university from squatters.