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 gold, in the Games that concluded on Thursday night.
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 stadiums - for the people to pursue sports. What remains is to work out a system so that people can be encouraged to take full advantage of them. It will be a slow process,” Iqbal said.
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.
While he showered praise on the stadiums, Iqbal termed them as 'white elephants'.
“The stadiums are excellent, but maintaining them will be a challenge. The outlook is changing, but still people are hesitant on spending money on sports training. That is an area which must be looked at,” he said.
Rajiv Mehra, a tennis coach in the city, said: “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'.”
“This is the first time that India has hosted such a mega sporting event with so much fanfare. It threw up so many heroes and in disciplines other than cricket. Kids are impressed and they want to play,” Mehra said.
Animikha Das, a Delhi University student who took admission in the sports quota in 2009, is however doubtful if the Games will have a lasting effect.
“I am a little sceptical if there will be a changed outlook. I am in my college swimming team and everytime 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 who is part of his college basketball team, is more positive.
“Some of my friends who are in the college swimming team go to Talkatora stadium for practice and they are now looking forward to using all the great upgraded facilities there,” 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. It will take time,” he added.