SAI freezes admissions at regional academies to accommodate Khelo India
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SAI freezes admissions at regional academies to accommodate Khelo India

Sports Authority of India has stopped admission in its regional academies thus putting a question mark on the training and education of more than 1,700 talented sportspersons

other sports Updated: Jun 14, 2018 21:25 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
SAI,Khelo India,Sports Authority of India
More than 1,700 talented kids are likely to be affected with Sports Authority of India’s decision to streamline its admission system into its regional academies. SAI claims its plan to accommodate Khelo India athletes is aimed at ‘professionalism’.(HT Photo)

The Sports Authority of India has put a hold on admissions in its regional centres in order to help promote similar centres proposed under Khelo India. The move has apparently put in jeopardy the training and education of more than 1,700 upcoming sportspersons across the country.

A circular issued by SAI’s Assistant Director (Ops) on February 15, 2018 discontinued admissions under the SAI Training Centres (STC) scheme. It has caused panic in centres across the country as trainees were expecting to return to their respective programmes after the summer vacation. The circular was modified on May 14, 2018 to allow admissions in centres except those at the regional headquarters.

SAI Director General Neelam Kapur said Khelo India is a new programme and is “top priority of the government.” She said: “As we want to incorporate athletes under Khelo India into various STC schemes, the admissions are on temporary hold. It is not aimed at ruining the careers of youngsters. In fact, it is aimed at selecting the right candidates.”

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Khelo India has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from existing or yet to be established academies, including those from SAI, run by public or private not-for-profit organisations all over the country to fulfil its target of producing 1,000 sportspersons every year under the Khelo India Talent Search and Development (KITD).

“KITD has set stiff parameters (of selection) and has been professionally planned to pick the right kid. The SAI is only taking stock of things and streamlining certain processes,” said Kapur, hinting that existing selection procedures had flaws.

These academies will be funded and equipped by Khelo India. A brainchild of the Ministry of Sports, Khelo India plans to support academies in 12 sports – archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, hockey, shooting, swimming, weightlifting. rowing, fencing, wrestling and table tennis.

Only those academies that aim to produce international standard sportspersons need to apply under the scheme, according to the EOI document. The EOI application should include a non-refundable draft of Rs 10,000. The document does not specify how many such academies would be established.

SAI has stopped admissions in its 12 regional centres. Though things will go on as usual at other centres, discontinuation of intake at regional centres will impact the entire scheme as these STCs provide optimum state-of-the-art facilities and scientific backup to trainees, some of whom are on the verge of breaking into international circuit.

Though the modified circular claims that SAI plans to convert the STCs at regional centres into single-sport academies so as to avoid clash with Khelo India, it does not specify any time-frame for that and also says nothing about trainees from other sports, if that centre is converted into a single-sport academy.

The STC scheme was established in 1987 and has produced many international stars. SAI sources claim that 14 STC trainees participated in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia and bagged 16 medals. Most of the trainees at the STCs at regional centres stay at the hostel and study in nearby schools in association with SAI.

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Sources in SAI said a counter proposal earmarking quota of places under the STC scheme at the regional centres for those selected under Khelo India scheme has been rejected.

The Khelo India academy accreditation process is still in nascent stage. The application process got over on June 11. This will be followed by scrutiny of documents by a high powered committee, followed by presentation by shortlisted applicants.

“The process of talent identification is over and age verification is being done. Once it’s complete, a comprehensive list will be prepared. Since some athletes will have preferences, they might want to study in at a particularly centre, we plan to accommodate them. After the final list, we will start admission. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a month,” said Kapur.

The SAI is also coordinating with Navodaya Vidyalaya to accommodate some Khelo India athletes.

Number of talented kids that would be affected:

In all, SAI have established 79 training centres all over the country. Students at following centres will be impacted: Bangalore 186; Kerala (Thiruvananthapuram) 59; Bhopal 233; Lucknow 166; Chandigarh 41; Patiala 105; Kolkata 194; Gandhinagar 218; Mumbai 96; Imphal 313; Guwahati 134.

In all, 6,867 talented children are given training under the STC scheme. These include 4,804 boys and 2,063 girls.

In all 1,713 trainees (1006 boys and 707 girls) are accommodated at regional centres.

First Published: Jun 14, 2018 18:39 IST