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Sports Opportunities for Deprived & Youth: An analysis of the sports-based social programs on underprivileged communities in India

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The importance of Sports in India 

Sport has emerged as a crucial component of a nation’s socioeconomic development in recent years. Sports participation boosts social cohesion, reduces medical costs, improves community health and productivity, and imbues character discipline. The staging of a major sporting event contributes significantly to a nation’s economic development because it helps to build infrastructure, create jobs, and ensure the flow of foreign capital. When it comes to promoting sports in a nation, the government is very important. The public sector of the sports industry is made up of the government and governmental organizations. This sector is in charge of making sports policies, giving grants to build infrastructure, developing talent, and creating specialized programs for sports’ overall development. In this blog, we will look at the importance of sports in India, opportunities for the deprived and youth, sports programs, schemes, role of Sports Authority of India (SAI) and much more.

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The necessity of sports for children

Image Source- Indian Youth

Sport has been a significant factor in the development of children’s physical and mental health and is an essential component of a child’s development. Children gain a variety of skills through sports participation, which helps them develop their personalities and become self-assured individuals. Numerous grassroots organizations are working to promote sports in a time when online games and the internet are making sports less important in children’s lives.

Increasing children’s overall well-being through sport and physical activity appears to be a fun, effective, and engaging strategy, according to worldwide research. This includes their academic performance, social and emotional well-being, and life skills that are necessary for educational, professional, and personal success. Every child has the right to play, according to UN Article 31. Still, roughly Sports are unavailable to 100 million Indian children, particularly those in poverty. It is necessary to instil healthy and active lifestyle habits at a young age across genders and classes for a developing young nation like ours. This can then help build the country. Making “sports” a part of a child’s education can be a stepping stone in this direction. 

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Sports: A valuable source of learning

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Kids are returning to sports and fans are rushing back to stadiums as the world returns to normalcy following possibly one of the most significant events in recent history. Sports are one of the best ways for kids to develop as adults. It teaches valuable life lessons like teamwork, skill development, and humility. Those who are blessed with exceptional playing ability will continue their athletic careers, possibly playing professionally or for elite educational institutions. However, to achieve that standard of playing professionally or even collegiately.

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The athlete must have talent, the right resources, exposure, and the right required support system. This idea that sports can help young athletes from under-served neighbourhoods and inner cities improve their lives is a common goal for them. However, for the majority of these kids, playing professional sports will simply remain a dream if they do not have access to beneficial resources or athletic opportunities.

The complications faced by underprivileged communities in sports 

Sports in India: Challenges & Problems faced by Indian Sports Fraternity

Children are expected to participate in extracurricular activities as they grow up in any suburban area. Whether it’s sports, music, dance, or theatre, many people find their calling, in one way or another. Many people can point to sports as a privilege that influenced their childhood. Now, what about those in communities with limited resources? Although some families in those communities can get their children involved in youth sports at a young age. Others are unable to do so. The reason for this is not that their children are not competent enough to play or prepared enough. It’s simply because they can’t participate. After all, they can’t afford the sports equipment they need.

When you consider the obstacles these kids face, to participate in youth sports, you can see how remote their chances of making it to college or the professional ranks are. Many of these students gain advantages that will benefit them in the future when they have access to the same opportunities as those who do not. Advantages like significant group abilities, positive effects on well-being, and capacities spinning around friendly communication. This does not merely imply that low-income parents cannot pursue their goals. It indicates that they have been denied an opportunity to acquire skills necessary for future success. 

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Reasons for underdeveloped sports in India

Sports authorities’ mismanagement and corruption

Image Source: TeluguOne.com

In India, sports administration has become synonymous with corruption. The majority of Indian sports authorities have been targeted by allegations of corruption, whether it be weightlifting, the most popular sport of cricket, or hockey. In addition, the controversies surrounding the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the prolonged involvement of politicians in the administration of sports bodies damaged the image of sports administrators in India.

Economic and social disparities

Image Source- The Varsity

The Indian sports industry suffers as a result of social and economic disparities. The country’s development of a positive sports culture has been hampered by factors such as the lack of encouragement for girls to participate in sports, the concentration of stadiums and other sports facilities in cities, the lack of access to sports infrastructure due to poverty, and so on.

Insufficient infrastructure

One of the most significant causes of the sport’s apathy in India is insufficient infrastructure. The lack of infrastructure and its access to only a small portion of society has had a negative impact on sport participation and the quality of athletes because training and organizing games require it.

Flaws in the policy

An effective policy must be developed and implemented for any sector to grow. Sports are no exception to this. Due to a lack of resources and expertise on the part of State and local governments, sports policy planning and implementation remain centralized in the nation. Apathy toward sports is also reflected in the lack of a separate ministry of sports at the union level.

Inadequate use of resources

In comparison to other developed and developing nations, India allocates few financial resources. It is still significantly less than the United Kingdom’s annual expenditure on the sports industry.


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The foundation of sports in India 

The Indian model of sports governance is frequently blamed for its failure in promoting sports in India. These views are supported by allegations of financial irregularities, fiefdom, nepotism, and lack of accountability. However, it appears that the Indian state has recently begun to take a keen interest in sports. Programs like the Khelo India Games have seen an increase in funding, with an increase of Rs 312.42 crore, or approximately $46 million, from a revised amount of Rs 578 crore, or approximately $78 million, in 2019-20 to Rs 890.42 crore, or approximately $120 million. However, it is yet to be determined whether or not the increase in the budgetary allocation will inspire any significant change on the ground.

According to Article 246 of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, sports are included in Entry 33 of the State List. Entertainment, cinematic performances, and amusement are all grouped under sports. Additionally, no specific law applies to the entire nation. Sport is a state subject matter under the Constitution. The Indian Government’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports issued the National Sports Development Code in 2011. All notifications and instructions issued by the Indian government regarding good governance of the National Sports Federations were dismissed by this code. The National Sports Federations’ compliance with the code’s conditions is unknown. However, the Code’s provisions have been upheld by several high courts and the Supreme Court.

The budget allocation and under usage of resources

At the national and international levels, a lot of experts think that India will need to spend a lot of money building a modern infrastructure and a strong grassroots system if it wants to become a sporting nation. The Indian government allocated Rs 2826.92 crore (approximately $380 million) for sports in the budget for 2020-21. This was an increase of Rs 50 crore (approximately $6.75 million) from the revised estimates for 2019-20.

Khelo India Games received an increase of Rs 312.42 crore (approximately $46 million) from a revised amount of Rs 578 crore (approximately $78 million) in 2019-20 to Rs 890.42 crore (approximately $120 million), accounting for a significant portion of the allocation. On the other hand, the National Sports Development Fund saw a decrease from Rs 77.15 crore in 2019-20, or approximately $10.4 million, to Rs 50 crore in 2020-21, or approximately $6.75 million. Even the funding for outstanding athletes was cut by almost 40% from the previous fiscal year. Also, keep in mind that the Olympics were supposed to be held in Tokyo in 2020. We were still going about our business as usual when the budget for 2020–21 was presented, blissfully unaware of the global devastation that was about to occur. 


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Role of Sports Authority of India 

The Sports Authority of India (SAI), India’s leading sports body, has been the driving force behind the country’s sporting goals. The development of the country’s sports culture has been largely facilitated by SAl. The apex sports body in India develops and implements a variety of sports programs and has developed a comprehensive strategy to enhance the structure of sports and physical education in the nation. With 59.69% of the population under the age of 34, India is one of the youngest countries in the world in terms of age distribution. The Indian government has made significant contributions to sports programs for youth in India to take advantage of this age.

To implement and carry out the plans that are supported by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, SAl has established 273 centres across the country. The primary goal of sports programs in India is to locate potential athletes. For the years 2021 and 2022, the Indian government provided a sports budget of IN 2,596.14 crore annually. This included INR 660.41 crores for SAl. In this blog, we’ll break down the government’s plan to boost India’s sports industry by providing lucrative sports training programs.

Government initiatives to uplift sports in India

Fit India Movement

On August 29, 2019, the eminent Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, officially launched this movement. The movement aims to make fitness simple, enjoyable, and free by influencing people’s actions and encouraging them to engage in more physical activity. The advertisement, which would air annually on a variety of fitness-related topics, was created using a four-year plan. The movement’s first year will be spent working out. Dietary habits, eco-friendly living, and disease prevention will be the focus of the second. Third, and fourth years, respectively. The goal of the Fit India Movement is to spread a culture of fitness and sports all over India. It inspires people to prioritize fitness in their daily lives.

Khelo India

The Khelo India program was inspired by the “Khel Mahakumbh,” which takes place in Gujarat and sees schools and other institutions from across the country compete in 27 different sports. The Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports introduced the Khelo India Program. As part of the Khelo India Scheme, the government would provide athletes and coaches with training to help them perform better at the Olympics. The goal of this initiative is to mainstream sports to foster personal, social, and economic development as well as national advancement.


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Target Olympic Podium Scheme

Its objective is to locate, cultivate, and prepare potential Olympic and Paralympic medal contenders. Athletes and sportspeople will get specialized training from well-known coaches at cutting-edge sports facilities and institutions as part of this program. The government also launched a similar program in 2020 called Junior TOPS. This is geared toward children aged 10 to 12 and aims to produce Olympic champions in 2024 and 2028.

The National Sports Development Fund

The Charitable Endowments Act of 1890 authorized the establishment of the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) in 1998. Athletes can benefit from the Fund’s technical, scientific, and psychological support, opportunities to train with renowned international coaches, and exposure to international competitions. The Fund provides additional financial support for sports infrastructure development and other sports promotion initiatives.

Schemes for India Sports Authority

Additionally, SAI oversees many programs that promote sports for older generation and youth. The Sports Authority is currently implementing the National Sports Academy (NSA) Scheme, the Center of Excellence Scheme, the National Sports Talent Contest (NSTC), the Army Boys Sports Company Scheme, the Special Area Games Scheme, and the COME and PLAY Scheme. The COME and PLAY Scheme encourages locals to play sports and games at SAI sports facilities. It also encourages locals to receive coaching from SAI coaches.

Mission Olympics 2024

To help India in winning 50 decorations in the 2024 summer Olympics, NITI Aayog has fostered a short-and medium-term activity plan. Six brand-new athletics coaches from outside India are expected to aid India’s Olympic preparations on this front. It envisions concentrating on the most important sports and grouping athletes into three categories for each one. Selecting the best coaches and implementing a coach grading system, aims to maximize the potential of indigenous and local sports.

Scheme for National Sports Awards

The government gives out the Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Awards, Dhyanchand Awards, and Dronacharya Awards each year to recognize and honour sports figures for their achievements as coaches and athletes. The highest athletic honours in India are the National Sports Awards. They are a collection of six awards given to athletes, coaches, or organizations for their achievements and contributions to the development of Indian sports.

Scheme for Sports and Games for People with Disabilities

Athletes with disabilities who participate in this program receive specialized sport-specific training. This is to manage sporting events and assist institutions and schools with athletes with disabilities. The Service of Youth Issues and Sports sent off the “Plan of Sports and Games for the Disabled People” as a Focal Area Plan in 2009-10. It occurred during the XI Plan Period. The primary objective of the plan is to encourage as many disabled people as possible to participate in sports.

Portal for sports talent search

In August 2017, former Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu established the Sports Talent Search Portal to identify India’s young people with the highest potential. The platform allows young people to post their accomplishments. The shortlisted candidates are invited to trials, and those who succeed can take part in the program run by the Sports Authority of India.


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Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan

On February 21, 2014, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan began as a federally funded program. It is a substitute of the previous Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan and Panchayat Yuva Krida, which both fall under this new initiative. It has been put in place of them. By building a specialized block for sports complexes, whether indoors or outdoors, the plan aims to accomplish several objectives. For both indoor and outdoor sports, the program will provide organizations with approximately six to seven acres for 1.6 crores. The indoor sports discipline will receive the remaining 80 lakhs INR. Meanwhile, the outdoor sports discipline will receive 80 lakhs INR.

National Centre of Sports Sciences and Research

The goal of the program run by the National Center for Sports Sciences and Research (NCSSR) is to encourage innovative research, instruction, and study of elite athletes’ high performance levels. The goal of the program is to foster cutting-edge research, education, and innovation for elite athletes with high performance levels. Through the creation of and support for the institutional mechanism necessary to accomplish this objective, the plan emphasizes sports sciences and sports medicine.

The role of SAI in sports upliftment 

The most important body for sports in India is the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It leads India’s sporting ambitions and creates an environment to encourage sports culture and sporting excellence. The Sports Authority of India is currently working on a series of reforms for the sports industry. These reforms will build on a holistic approach to the growth of sports and physical education. The most dynamic and vibrant section of the population is the youth. With approximately 65% of the population under the age of 35, India ranks among the world’s youngest nations. The people between the ages of 15 and 29 comprises 27.5% of the population.

India is expected to become the third biggest economy behind the US and China by 2027-28. India is anticipated to have a demographic profile that is very favorable. Whereas the majority of these developed nations are at risk from an ageing workforce. Through various Ministries and Departments, the Indian Government makes significant investments in youth programs. State governments and a number of other stakeholders are also working to help youth grow. And then make it possible for them to participate in sports and physical activities productively. The Sports Authority of India is implementing the aforementioned programs throughout the nation. It is with the intention of promoting sports at the Sub-Junior, Junior, and Senior levels.


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SAI schemes to promote sports for underprivileged

National Sports Talent Contest Scheme (NSTC)

The National Sports Talent Contest (NSTC) Scheme is being implemented to identify school-based sports talent between the ages of 8 and 14. And then develop them into medal hopefuls through scientific training. There are currently 14* regular adopted schools and 10 adopted schools for indigenous games and martial arts promotion.

Army Boys Sports Company Scheme (ABSC)

This is a joint venture between SAI and the Indian Army. The main goal of the scheme is to use the Army’s good infrastructure and disciplined environment to train boys between 8 and 16 years to be great athletes. The trainees are also offered employment in the Army once they reach the required age of 17 and a half. In India, trainees are currently receiving instruction in the aforementioned fields at 18 Centers.

SAI Training Centres Scheme (STC)

Through the integration of various schemes, the primary objectives were to enable the Central Government and State Governments to collaborate on sports development efforts. Then to redress the sports infrastructure disparities that exist within and across the country. And to allow SAI to scientifically cultivate junior sports talent that has achieved excellence at the Sub Junior level under the NSTC Scheme and to induct them into the STCs/Centres of Excellence for ongoing scientific and in-depth coaching. There are 56 STC Centers in the country at the moment. 

Extension Centre of STC /SAG

In 2005, the STC/SAG centres Scheme’s extension centres were expanded to include schools and colleges with adequate basic infrastructure and positive sports results. The goal was to raise sports standards in these institutions. The Scheme adopts trainees between the ages of 12 years and 18 years. There are 70* STC/SAG Extension Centres in the country at the moment. 


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Special Area Games Scheme (SAG)

The Special Area Games (SAG) Scheme seeks to scientifically nurture inaccessible natural talent for modern competitive sports and games from rural, tribal, and coastal areas of the country for sports excellence. In addition, the plan envisions utilizing talent from indigenous games and martial arts as well as communities and regions that are either genetically or geographically advantageous for excellence in a specific sport. The main goal of the scheme is to teach good athletes between the ages of 12 and 18. Though in some cases the age may be lowered. There are currently 19 SAG Centers in the country. 

Centre of Excellence Scheme (COX)

The Centre of Excellence Scheme (COX) was established in 1997 as a natural follow-on to the Sub-Junior and Junior schemes. The plan called for athletes who had done well as seniors to be admitted. National Competitions, which provide 330 days of advanced scientific training at the Regional Centres of the SAI. These Centres of Excellence serve as regular coaching camps for India’s best talent. They also provide concurrent layers of skilled athletes, giving National Teams a wider selection of talents.

COME and PLAY Scheme

In order to get the most out of SAI sports facilities in Delhi and across the country, the Come & Play Scheme was started. Its primary goal was to encourage local athletes in areas where SAI sports facilities or centres are in use. 


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Ayushi Bhatti
Ayushi Bhatti
I am Ayushi Bhatti, a graduate of B.A. English Honours from St. Stephens College, University of Delhi. Currently, I am pursuing M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Sharda University. Over the years, I have attained proficiency in the English language through my consistent hard work and efficient writing skills. I have formerly written content for several prestigious platforms and some of them are NDTV Lifestyle Swirlster, LernEzy, Yhills, Kreedon, Zee Media. I have also been doing freelance writing besides writing articles, blogs, advertisements for campaigns, and website content. I possess the capability to write insightful and lucid content to bewitch my readers.

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