With a view to encouraging sports in rural areas of the state, the rural development and panchayat department is set to revive tradition of holding sports tournaments at the block, district and state level across Punjab from January next year.
The department has issued directions to all district development and panchayat officers, additional deputy commissioners (development), chairmen of zila parishads and panchayat smitis in the state about organising tournaments.
The sports tournaments will have race, tug-of-war, volleyball and kabaddi among others.
The department has also set the budget expenditure for holding these tournaments. While `1 lakh will be spent on block-level tournament, Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh will be spent on district and state-level tournaments respectively.
The district development and panchayat officials will collect the money for holding these tournaments from panchayats.
For the state-level tournament, Rs 50,000 will be submitted from each district to the government.
Interestingly, the department has asked the officials concerned to also include race for sarpanches and panches so that their involvement could encourage the youth in their villages to join sports.
The rural development and panchayat department had earlier been organising these tournaments in the 1980s and 1990s through the Panchayati Raj Khed Parishad.
In March 1993, these sports tournaments were discontinued as per order of state government of that time and the Panchayati Raj Khed Parishad was merged with sports and youth services department.
Now, the panchayat department has decided to revive sports culture in villages by restarting such sports tournaments.
An official said a committee will look after the arrangements of holding the tournaments. The committee will be headed by the chairman of panchayat smiti at the block level and zila parishad chairman at the district level.
He said Punjab has a great sporting talent in villages which need to be tapped on a bigger platform and these tournaments will provide them a chance to groom nationally and internationally.
He further said the games will help the youth in villages ward off drugs.
When contacted, rural development and panchayat department director C Siben said, “This is the government’s next step to involve the youth in sports so that they stay away from drugs.”
“Earlier, the department was planning to organise these tournaments in November this year but they were postponed till January next year due to elections of local bodies,” he added.