India is a youth centric nation that needs to systemically redefine its sporting policy, program and priorities. National Sports Federations (NSF) Reform is a critical component of this transformation journey
Over the last few years, Indian has clearly demonstrated that there is no dearth of sporting talent in the country. If one has the hunger and the passion to excel coupled with focus, hard work and perseverance, no goal is unattainable. India's athletes, despite systemic limitations and structural flaws, have managed to deliver handsome results. Hats off to them.
Hopefully, this success will finally convince this nation of our potential in sports and our ability to deliver big results in international events. Indians have cheered & rooted for India's heroes across sports and the outpouring of love across media platforms is just phenomenal.
Most importantly, I hope that these results encourage the gamekeepers of sports in India to drastically improve the management, infrastructure, services and sports ecosystem to enable our sportsmen to dream big and deliver even bigger results.
For that to happen, India's gamekeepers at all levels (central & state ministries & national sports federations) need to change the ways that sports are governed, managed and executed at all levels. The system and attitude towards sports and athletes have to be encouraging and enabling rather than disillusioning, to say the least.
FOCUS & PRIORITIES
As India begins its preparation for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 & beyond, it is critical that every effort is made to enable high-performance athletes. For now, some sporadic efforts have begun and other opportunistic remedies have been initiated. I think we are all thankful that an ex-Olympian, Col Rajyavardhan Rathore is today heading the Sports Ministry and spearheading this change. However, much more needs to be done and time is running out.
In order to improve, it is critical that India looks at all three equally important components of change
For India to systematically identify, select, nurture and develop talent and institutionalize the process, there is an urgent need for a holistic & seamlessly integrated sports management mandate & structural overhaul, as highlighted below.
At The Central Government (Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports) Level,
At the National Sports Federation Level,
The 5 point agenda for Sports Federations should include -
Grass root implementation of programs, increasing participation, awareness building promotional efforts & strengthening the sports ecosystem have to be initiated by the Federations in partnership with private players to support the commercialization of sports in the long term. The Federations can no longer afford to believe that launching a league will automatically result in developing the sport. Much more needs to be done, for which a holistic game development program needs to be institutionalized.
In a country where close to 40% of our population is under the age of 20 years, sports can effectively be used to inculcate life skills and creatively channelize youthful energies to creative pursuits. If we have to build a fit, healthy and vibrant India of the future, this cannot be ignored.