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The sung and the unsung heroes: The told, untold saga of our Indian Athletes

Why the achievements of our Indian athletes, still covered as rare, often termed as ‘special’ and is not a consistent, significant practice?

Since childhood, I have seen India, as a country – be it the ministry, media or sponsors, obsessed with cricket. But time and again, we forget the glories that the past achievers or the budding Indian athletes have brought to our nation. While practising, training, competing and finally conquering, these Indian athletes have unfolded as champions and prized laurels for the nation.

Indian Boxing contingent. Image Source: kreedon.com

The cricketing craze of the nation and the amount of time which has been given in the past to develop the sport of cricket is much ahead than the time taken to better the conditions of many other sports in the country. Probably, this is the reason when I hear any Indian athlete performing par excellence at the National or International platform,  it brings a great sense of exclusive joy  – as the performance, the medal and the special moment, is a sheer result of the hard work, determination and dedication of Indian athletes, their coaches and their families.

For me, it has always seemed a major setback for Indian athletes who, with all of their time, blood and sweat, squeeze their way through to be at the top of the sport. An Indian athlete represents India at the world stage and wins medals, to see that tri-colour flying high, proudly. Yet, be it the coverage, the infrastructure, the training or the project/campaigns, Indian athletes had been comparatively lacking behind when it comes to treatment.

Glory at Asian Games. Image Source: timesofindia.com

Some of the basic problems that have been harping in the proper development of Indian Sports and Indian Athletes’ performance are:

  • Lack of Basic infrastructure
  • Lack of Funds and Sponsorship
  • Lack of Proper Coaching System
  • Poor Diet and Fitness
  • Lack of opportunities post sports
  • Lack of Media coverage
  • Gender Disparity (not to be the least)

While many Indian athletes have, till recent, gained a lot of momentum with all the limelight turning to them – after having won many titles and medals at the international podium. This has thankfully led to a positive growth curve in the conditions of Indian athletes in the country. But, sadly, some of those Indian athletes who aren’t able to maintain the commercial know-how with time, get lost somewhere in the dark. With lack of further sources of development, their dreams and their financial situation nip at the bud.

Image Source: edexlive.com

We have many examples of this. Recently reported, the once-ace boxer, Dinesh Kumar, due to his ill financial conditions, is selling Kulfi on streets. Rashmita Patra, who represented India internationally in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the under-16 women’s qualifier at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2008, had to move away from her sport favourite sport and start a betel shop to meet her financial ends, according to Jaagore.com.

The list of such cases is long, sadly.

Okay, Now the Solution –

1. A holistic infrastructure in place

There needs to be done at a grassroot level of development, with a much-required, holistic infrastructure for our Indian athletes to be at place. Though I can see, things improving, with many major governing bodies and corporates coming together to better the situation, one step at a time.

In an HT interview with Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore during Asian Games 2018, he had quoted that this success of Indian athletes has not arrived overnight, accepting the fact of their struggles and hardships behind.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore at the 51st Governing Body Meeting. Image Source: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s twitter handle

Moreover, dreaming and making efforts for a promising future for our Indian athletes, he quoted, “We have a robust plan in place and more is on the anvil. One of the big steps we took was the Khelo India School Games (KISG). More such games are on the way. Some of the KISG winners, even though still in their teens, have made it to the national teams. You will hear more about them in disciplines like athletics and swimming, among others. A lot of them, as also the experienced stars, are also part of TOPs — Target Olympic Podium scheme — which caters to the needs of athletes. It is something that does not become static — we are constantly monitoring athletes, seeing how they are performing, and in case they are going down, we want to know why and try to help them or we weed them out. Those showing progress are given more exposure and competition. We are not just providing monetary assistance, but also coaches, trainers and a support system that helps them in every which way. So, it is not just these games, but the current system itself that will be giving results.”

2. #FanBannaPadega

Moreover, we, as a nation will continuously fail to stand with our Indian athletes, until and unless, we start appreciating sports other than cricket and football, in an equal manner. It is not only the government but also we as citizens are in a dire need to cast an indifferent eye upon our Indian athletes and applaud their contribution in sports. It is again we, who need to be craziest fans of our wrestlers, jumpers, climbers, boxers, runners, etc. Remember, it is WE.

Image Source: kreedon.com

Despite a dismal structure, we have been seeing many Indian athletes, in the past and present, achieving inspite of the ignorance; they face, time and again. This success, truly, truly belongs only to them. Built with their own blood, sweat, determination and of course hardships, we as a country, have just hugged them when they have succeeded and have not helped them in the journey towards the feat.

We have seen a lot of human endurance and bravery of our Indian athletes, and a lot of their hardships too and NOW is the need of the hour, where we should be standing strong, for our Great Indian Athletes.

 

P.S: #KreedOn team is dedicated to Indian sports and Indian athletes, are you?

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Bhawna Kothari
Lover of cultures, varied colors, and underdogs, Bhawna is a by-heart and professional playwright. Hailing from a journalism & communication background, she incorporates a careful study at both flips of the coin which is essentially required to be analytical in thoughts and words. Actively abreast of the current affairs around the globe, she likes knowing and bringing into light the unexplored. Problem solving via the power of content is what inspires her and hence KreedOn, a platform created for the betterment of sports ecosystem in India, is now her happy workplace!

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