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Center for Sports Excellence: It is Overdue to the state

Monitor News Bureau

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I recently read that one of the major parameters of any nation’s quality of human development is its performance in sports and games. While this country boasts of being the one of the fastest growing economies among so called BRIC countries, on sports front, it stands at the tail end.

Take Rio Olympics, 2016 for example. Among BRIC countries, China stood 3rd overall with total 70 medals including 26 gold, 18 silver and 26 bronze medals. Russia stood 4th with a total of 55 medals including 19 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals. Likewise, Brazil emerged as 13th best nation with a total medals tally of 19 including 7 gold, 6 silver and 6 bronze medals. And India, another BRIC nation, performed abysmally poor at 67th position in tie with Mangolia with a total of 2 medals including a silver in Badminton (P.V. Sindhu) and a bronze in Wrestling (SakshiMalik in Women’s freestyle 58kg category). Ironically, otherwise unknown nations including Fiji, Bahrain, Bahamas and even Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA) did better than the country which homes around 18% population of the globe.

In fact, in terms of the ratio of medals won to the population size, it emerged as the worst performer among 86 participating nations. With 132 crore population (2016), the ratio stood at 66 crore people per medal. This is a sin!

 

Worst was the fact that not even a single gold medal was won by the countrys’ total contingent of 117 athletes including 63 men and 54 women who participated across 15 sports during the Rio Olympics, including first Olympian from our J&K state Chain Singh – 50m rifle shooter – from village Chanser of Doda district.

Chain did make it to the J&K Bank’s yearly calendar of 2018, but for him, a pukka road to his hilly village of Chanser would mean more than an Olympic medal. Somehow, I could relate Chain’s struggle in shooting for a better road to his village with that of Ali for little sister Zara’s pair of sneakers (Children of Heaven).

A few academic studies have been conducted in course of finding out as to why many countries win few Olympic medals. In 2008 report in the ‘Economic and Political Weekly’, an Indian Publication, Anirudh Krishna and Eric Haglundargued
that “Olympians are drawn, not from the entire population of a country, but only from the share that is effectively participating. Low medal tallies can arise both because a country has very few people and because very few of its people effectively participate.”Further, they contended that there are certain factors that limit effective participation. Those factors, they say, are health, education, public information and what they call ‘physical connectedness’ i.e. a population’s ability to travel. In other words, an unhealthy individual is unlikely to participate in sport; an educated individual is likely to be more ambitious and school attendance increases the chance that talent will be spotted and developed; in terms of public information, an individual can only aspire to be an Olympic athlete if he or she has heard about the Olympics via the media; and where there is little ‘physical connectedness’ in remote, isolated villages, many sporting jewels may go undiscovered. In rural India, where life expectancy and primary school enrolment are below the world average and where there is more limited access to the outside world both physically and communication-wise, much of the effective participating population is lost.

Zoom in to the state of J&K, it is hard to find any athlete of national repute in present times, except for little TajamulIslam who made the state proud in lesser-known kickboxing world championships. At national level, the state does not figure anywhere near its neighbours like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, not even the special category North-Eastern states. To mention, in the latest 35th National games of India held in Kerala in 2015, J&K athletes won a total of 15 medals including 3 gold, 2 silver and 10 bronze medals. This is mediocre in comparison to 162 medals won by Haryana. Even special category states like us, Manipur – 69 medals and Assam – 25 medals – including 9 gold medals handsomely. In cricket, though ParvezRasool has made the state proud, yet the state team has never been able to consolidate its position as a competitive cricketing state, with recent performances swinging like clock pendulum.

Andin football, the most popular sport on the globe and undoubtedly the sport of state’s glory in the past has also lost sheen here. The state team has not been able to qualify the preliminary round in the coveted Santosh Trophy for many years now, even though the recent U-19 team performance has set an opinion of a promising future.

As an exception, the state athletes have been in news forgood performances in many Chinese martial arts like Wushu and Judo. Kudos to the players!,These games give a sense of Chinese invasion though.

Exploring the reasons behind poor performance of a nation or a state, there is a general understanding that lack of a sporting culture as well as non-availability of modern infrastructure are the main reasons.

Although cable TV networks,supplemented by change of attitude of parents towards sports and games systemhave phenomenally transformed the sporting culture across the state, with even remote regions of Ladakh having access to HD quality TV signal who are able to watch international sports events as well as national ones, yet modern sports infrastructure still remains an area of concern.

Even though there are 42 playing fields across the state, not even a single qualifies to be first class.  Look at the heart of Srinagar, you see the grand indoor stadium – the best of class when inaugurated – remains same as it was 30 years back. No even an iota of upgradationboth outside or within the stadium has happened over the period. In fact, it remained in dilapidated condition during the years of turmoil. In many districts of the state, we have dozens of playfields craving for attention. Moreover, the state in general and the valley of Kashmir in particular takes a beat for lack of an all-weather proof multi-sport complex, given the wet weather conditions that extend for more than half of the year.

The way forward – establishment of a Sports Centre of Excellence, where athletes can access facilities that are on par with any centre in the world. The centre should be a multi-purpose venue which can house multiple sporting disciplines – an integrated convertible multi-sports facility. Itshould have a high quality sports science, rehabilitation, and elite athlete training centre, along with other sporting facilities under one roof where athletes of all age group can train, compete, rehabilitate, shop or just hang out.

InU.S., no matter the size of the community, you see basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, football fields and soccer fields. Every middle school, it seems, has a track and open spaces where people can play anything. Most high school have facilities — at the minimum, a big field that hosts football, soccer field hockey, and baseball; at the most, there are separate fields for each of those sports, plus indoor training and practice facilities. Multiple basketball courts in one location are a common sight. In China, there are thousands of Centres of Excellence. And in India, a few have already come up like Padokone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, are coming up at a fast pace.

While Sports Authority of India, the apex National body dedicated to development of sport in India, has already established 11 ‘Centres of Excellence’(as per SAI website) across the country including Haryana, Manipur, Odisha, Gujrat, Maharashtra etc., 12th one in the state of J&K would fill the much needed gap of the modern sports infrastructure facilities for the budding talent of the state.

No matter what goes on in the vicinity, we still play cricket on the road, carom in the lawn and football in open fields. There is no stop to sports activities, not even by pellets. Given the sporting talent within, the state athletes deserve better facilities to compete at the national and international level. If states like Manipur have it, the Center for Sports Excellence is already overdue to the state of J&K.

 

Views expressed are author’s own. Feedback at [email protected]


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Ganguly backs Dhawan to shine at ICC World Cup

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Mumbai:There is not a bowler in the world that can stop Shikhar Dhawan when the opener is in determined mood and the left-hander will be crucial to Indias hopes at this years Cricket World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly has said.

Dhawan smashed 97 not out off 63 balls in Delhi Capitalsseven-wicket victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in Fridays Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at Eden Gardens, much to the delight of Ganguly, an advisor to the Capitals.

Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma are India`s batting mainstays in one-day cricket but Ganguly puts Dhawan, who has 16 centuries from 128 ODIs with a 93-plus strike rate, in the same league.

 

“The three best players in one-day cricket — Dhawan, Rohit, Virat,” Ganguly told the IPL website. “When he (Dhawan) gets set and gets in he`s unstoppable.

“All I expect from him is determination. When he is determined, no bowler in the world can stop him.”

Dhawan`s second fifty of this IPL season, which catapulted Delhi into the top four, augurs well for India ahead of the May 30 to July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.

Along with opening partner Rohit, the onus will be on Dhawan to give India strong starts in the tournament and the southpaw has performed well on English soil.

Named man of the series in their triumphant 2013 Champions Trophy campaign, Dhawan was also the tournament`s leading scorer four years later when India lost in the final to Pakistan.

“If he gets set, he takes the game away. This is how he plays for India,” Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup, later told reporters. “He`s a class act.”

Two-time champions India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

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Olympique Lyon’s Champions League spot under threat after Nantes defeat

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London: Olympique Lyonnais` Champions League qualifying hopes were hit as they were beaten 2-1 at Nantes in Ligue 1.

Third-placed Lyon, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot, were undone by Anthony Limbombes late free-kick after Martin Terrier had cancelled out Kalifa Coulibalys opener for Nantes.

Lyon are on 56 points with six games left, six ahead of fourth-placed St Etienne, who play their game in hand at home against Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday.

 

It was Lyon`s third straight defeat in all competitions after they were knocked out of the French Cup semi-finals by Stade Rennes and lost at home to lowly Dijon in the league last weekend.

The result leaves an even bigger question mark over coach Bruno Genesio`s future, with the club set to make a decision on whether to extend his contract at the end of the season.

With Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Marcelo on the bench, Lyon got off to a bad start.

Coulibaly opened the scoring in the 11th minute after collecting a though ball from Majeed Waris.

Lyon were shaken by the hosts but weathered the storm and equalised one minute before the interval when Terrier curled a fine shot into the back of the net to finish off a counter-attack.

Limbombe earned Nantes victory seven minutes from fulltime with an inch-perfect free-kick, lifting the Canaries up to 15th in the table on 34 points.

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Defender Gomez sign two-year contract extension in East Bengal

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Mumbai: East Bengal fans will heave a huge sigh of relief after their star defender Borja Gomes decided to sign a contract extension with the club and not follow Jobby Justin to go out. The Kolkata-based club is in the process of becoming a part of the ISL next season with I-League’s future looking bleak.

East Bengal came agonizingly close to lift the I-League title yet again this season before Chennai City FC eventually won it as the Kolkata club finished second.And with I-League looking to either get dissolved or set to get demoted to the second division, it was important for East Bengal to finish high on the table.

However, that wasn’t enough for the club to retain their star striker Jobby Justin, who signed a pre-contract with two-time ISL champions ATK just after the I-League ended and the Super Cup was in its quarter-final stage. But, the club was quick to react after that setback and on Friday handed a two-year contract extension to Spanish defender Borja Gomez.

 

“East Bengal FC are pleased to announce the renewal of contract with Borja Gomez Perez for the next two seasons,” the club said in a statement.

“According to him, this is the best team and ‘fans are the best in India’,” the statement added.

The Madrid-born La-Liga star, who is nick-named as the ‘Senapati’, was one of the key members for the club last season and has been a motivator for the team both on and off the field. Gomez has previously played for Granada CF, Real Oviedo, Hercules CF, Real Murcia and more before East Bengal had signed him from UD Sanse in January last year.

East Bengal has already announced their bid for ISL in a board meeting and are currently waiting for the terms to get financially acceptable.

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