New Delhi, June 20: In a major initiative to bring former sporting champions to help promising athletes and to ensure a sustained source of income, the Sports Ministry has decided to establish 1000 Khelo India Centers (KIC) at the district level across the country. These centers will either be run by a past champion or have them as coaches. It will not only strengthen the sports trainees but will also ensure that past champions can contribute to making India a sporting superpower while earning a livelihood from sports.
Speaking about this decision to provide a platform for past champions to be professionally involved in sport, Union Sports Minister, Kiren Rijiju said, “As we strive to make India a sporting superpower, one of the things we have to ensure is that sports become a viable career option for youngsters. Only when sports can offer a sustained means of livelihood to athletes, even after they stop playing competitive sports, will parents be motivated to allow their children to take up sports as a serious career option.
Further, he said that it is the only way to find the best talent, who may otherwise decide to take up other career options adding this decision is a step in that direction. The Ministry wants to ensure that anyone who has played sport at the national level has a life of dignity and financial stability.
The first category of athletes who will be considered is those who have represented India at recognized international competitions under a recognized NSF or association. The second category is of medal winners in senior national championship conducted by a recognized NSF or a medal winner at the Khelo India Games.
The third category of past champions is those who have won medals in the National All India University Games. The fourth category will include those who have represented the state in a Senior National Championship conducted by recognized NSFs or participated in Khelo India Games. Meanwhile, an exception has been made in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ladakh, where coaches trained with NIS certification will also be eligible to apply.
"To build the country-wide network of Khelo India Centres, existing SAI extension centers will be given the option of converting into a KIC and recruiting a past champion to avail the financial grant under the scheme. Any past champion can also establish a new KIC with infrastructure owned by themselves, the central and state government, local authorities, clubs, or educational institutions, " the statement read.
Further, in order to be eligible for grants under the scheme, the past athlete will be required to personally impart full-time training to athletes at the center. Organizations that have been promoting sports for at least 5 years will also be eligible to establish a KIC, provided they recruit past champions as coaches. Organizations in J&K, Ladakh, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadeep and northeast states are exempt from this 5-year rule.
Training will be imparted at the Khelo India Centres in 14 Identified Sports for Excellence in Olympics (ISEO) including archery, athletics, boxing, badminton, cycling, fencing, hockey, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling. Football and traditional sports have also been included.
The grant to each KIC will be extended for the remuneration of the past champion athlete as a coach, support staff, purchase of equipment, sports kits, consumables, participation in the competition, and events. The process of identifying new KICs will be carried out by the sports department of the respective state and union territory in liaison with District Collectors and the proposal will be forwarded to the Sports Authority of India’s regional center for further evaluation. During the current Financial Year, 100 KICs are planned to be established.