Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore takes aim with Khelo India | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore takes aim with Khelo India

A silver medallist in shooting at the 2004 Athens Olympics, new sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore wants India’s youth to gun for the bullseye through the Khelo India programme

other sports Updated: Sep 22, 2017 10:22 IST
Soumitra Bose
Soumitra Bose
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore took charge as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge) earlier this month.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore took charge as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge) earlier this month.(PTI)

A new sports minister with a brand new game plan. Like every new man (or woman) who occupies the hot seat at Shastri Bhavan, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore too has revealed his roadmap for Indian sports. By adopting a more pragmatic approach, Rathore’s Khelo India programme looks good on paper.

“It won’t be like any other project managed by government servants, it will be flexible and have proper professional guidance. In two months we will have highly-paid professionals running the show with our officers,” promised Rathore in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times on Thursday.

The immediate effect of the Khelo India programme will be a School Games in the last two weeks of December 2017. “It will be different from the one run by the School Games Federation of India. We will have a broadcast partner and all things that go into staging a mega event,” said Rathore.

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Khelo India will spot a 1,000 children (up to Class XII) from the School Games and fund them by allocating Rs 5 lakh per year for eight years.

“We will pick 1,000 young athletes every year till 2022,” said 47-year-old Rathore, adding the government will partner with “non-government” parties to take care of training.

The School Games in December will have 16 disciplines, including kho-kho and kabaddi. Archery, shooting and athletics will be among the priority sports, the minister said.

Padma Shri Rathore had won a silver in shooting at the 2004 Athens Olympics and is the first sports minister with proper sports credentials. Rathore replaced Vijay Goel as sports minster on September 3.

Rathore’s approach certainly is inspiring but given India’s propensity to change sports ministers like shirts, his tenure in the hot seat will be crucial. Not a stranger to chasing records, Rathore will have to equal if not better Margaret Alva or Mani Shankar Aiyar’s tenure as a sports minister.

Rathore skirted a question on his ‘longevity’ as sports minister. “The Prime Minister has a vision for the country’s youth ...stability will be there,” was all he would say.

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Not amused with FIFA organsiers

The sports minister’s immediate focus, of course, is the FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be staged in India from October 6-28. When told that the local organising committee had done precious little to raise awareness on India’s maiden FIFA event, Rathore said: “I have summoned the local committee and you shall see hoardings across the city very soon.”

Mr Minister, did you see Hindustan Times’ story on how the local FIFA committee’s Mission XI Million programme was a hogwash?

An international sportsperson and an ex-Armyman, who knows a thing or two about discipline, honesty and pin-point execution, Rathore only said: “I would like to see a better blueprint for the growth of Indian football.”