Motivational drive to pursue sports professionally for rural sportspersons in the region has merely become a way to secure government jobs, assert players visiting from different rural areas in the region here at 'Jarkhar Sports Festival'. They also emphasised on the need of infrastructural improvement for sports and more rural sports festivals, so that hidden talent in the rural areas can be tapped to uplift the stature of sports.
HT interacted with several players and sports enthusiasts (spectators) who came to enjoy the 'Jarkhar Sports Festival' here at the Mata Sahib Kaur Jarkhar Sports Academy in Jarkhar village. Most of these players exhibited a special penchant for their respective sports so that they could get a government job in future.
It is pertinent to mention here that hundreds of players from the region have thronged Jarkhar village to participate in eight different disciplines in four-day-long sports festival.
Gurdev Singh, 65, a resident of Domgora village, who is accompanied by his five-year-old grandson, Dilpreet, who wishes to be a hockey player in future, said, "Agriculture, which used to be the primary source of our livelihood, is now gradually losing its ground in rural pockets of the region. Therefore, youth of the village is very much drawn towards sporting activities and their prime motive to get into sports is to secure a government job."
Amritpal Singh, a 17-year-old hockey player from Ghawaddi village, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, said, "Playing hockey at national level earned my father a respected government job in Punjab police. I am playing hockey at the state level now and quite confident of playing at the national level soon just like my father did, so that I can be assured of a secured future through a government job."
While most of them admit to pursue their respective sports professionally in the future, their priority centers around getting a job in a government department.
Another athlete Simranjeet kaur, 18, who hails from Tarn Taran and wants to pursue handball professionally, said, "Indulging and playing sports professionally till the state level has certainly improved prospects of my father getting into the army. In other words, he was given priority over others. I am playing handball for more than eight years now. With lack of resources and lesser number of competitions throughout the year, all I just hope is getting enrollment in police department soon."
When asked to share his opinion on the changing scene of rural sports, sports enthusiast from Alamgir village Amarjeet Singh, 45, said, "The young sportspersons take up sports just to secure a government job. This can possibly be attributed to the poor state of affairs in rural areas of the region. It is only a few and far between sports fests organised annually such as 'Jarkhar Sports Festival' and 'Kila Raipur Games' that attract participants and spectators on a large scale."
"Government can play a significant role in devising a plan where more competitions can be organised every year to infuse confidence among rural youth to take up sports professionally and not just to secure a government job," he said.