The Rio Olympics is over and the athletes are all back home. For the next four years, a majority of them will sweat it out, train and fight their daily struggles alone. The social media posts during the Olympics would give us an impression that we are a country with a strong sporting culture, which sadly is not true. Most of us will forget about sports for the next four years and wake up again during the opening ceremony of Tokyo Games and expect gold!
The elusive medal does not come easy – there’s a lot that goes into making it to the top. The United Kingdom which came second in the games winning 67 medals spent 5.5 million pounds on every medal, that’s over a billion pounds! But it would be wrong to believe that we as a nation will strike gold if we suddenly increase our sports budget by 100%. We as a society must build a culture for sports until each of us start supporting one sport of our choice.
There is no doubt that we need better infrastructure, there is no doubt that we need to eradicate corruption in sports federations, but it can only be done if more people who truly love sports get involved. In a country where 21% of the population is below the poverty line, sports take a back seat. The change is therefore coming from those who can afford to take up sports. There is an increase in middle and upper middle class families helping their children succeed in sports. In the case of Abhinav Bindra, his family even set up a shooting range at their home.
We need to do a lot more if we are to win more Olympic medals but we just have four years to prepare for Tokyo Olympics. At CNN News18, we prepared a charter with the help of Olympians and this is a snapshot of what we can do:
ACCOUNTABILITY – ‘Perform or Perish’ policy must be implemented for both federations as well as athletes
ADMINISTRATIVE OVERHAUL – Experts with core competence should be inducted, end babu culture
SAI – Needs a total overhaul. Must put in place a comprehensive plan to deliver results at the Olympics. Dedicated officers to be hired, follow-up rigorously
SAI must become the arbiter of performance and accountability with respect to NSFs, training centres and athletes
PROFESSIONALISE TRAINING – NIS must be brought on par with the best in the world. Outdated curriculum must be updated
HIGH PERFORMANCE MANAGER – Each federation must have one, as also SAI. Sports Ministry too should have a HIGH PERFORMANCE MANAGER to co-ordinate between SAI & NSFs
ROAD TO 2020: Comprehensive plan to be put in place for the next 8 years. Start high-quality Junior Programs to identify new talent.
PLAN FOR 2024: Identify potential talent across the country and groom them with the best of facilities and training
PRIORITISE SPORTS: Identify sports that perform and provide funding specially to them only
SELECTION ONLY ON MERIT: Every Olympic federation must have proper selection policies that choose on merit, rather than reputation
MONITOR AID: Doling out largesse through TOP or NSDF won’t help; it must be monitored to check for proper utilisation
INVOLVE SPORTSPERSONS: Bring in core knowledge and expertise to end the system of ‘yes men’
START INDIA’S BEST PRACTICE FOR SPORTS: Experts in the field of medicine, nutrition, psychology, accounting and many other disciplines to put together the entire program that needs to be implemented for a successful Olympic sporting legacy.
Karma Paljor is Business Editor, CNN IBN