In India, cricket takes center stage, making youngsters choose cricket over other sports as a profession. But things are changing as we have witnessed the overwhelming support received for Indian athletes in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics 2021. India gave tough competition in many events and won 7 medals with 1 gold, 2 silvers, and 4 bronze medals which is the best performance to date in the Olympics. One of the reasons for this marked improvement in Indian sports is the changes made in the sports infrastructure and the launching of new programs to promote sports culture among youngsters interested in taking up sports as a career. We will discuss 7 government schemes launched to promote sports culture and sports athletes in India.
7 Sports Schemes launched by Sports Authority of India
1. National Sports Talent Contest Scheme (NSTC)
This scheme is implemented to discover talented young sports athletes in the age group of 8-14 years from local schools. The scheme aims to nurture the children by providing them with proper scientific training so that they could have the best shot at medals at national and international level sports competitions. NSTC adopts about 14 regular schools, 10 sports schools, and 32 Akharas, and 1000 students are being trained under NIS-trained coaches. The different sports covered under NSTC are Athletics, Basketball, Hockey, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Football, Gymnastics, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, and Wrestling.
2. Army Boys Sports Company Scheme (ABSC)
It is a sports scheme launched through the collaboration of SAI with the Indian Army. The scheme’s main agenda is to utilize the excellent infrastructure and disciplinary environment of the army to train boys in the age limit of 8-16 years and help them achieve excellence in sports. After reaching the age of 17.5 years, these athletes are offered job placement in the army. There are about 18 centers in India where about 100 plus athletes undergo training in various sports disciplines.
3. SAI Training Centres Scheme (STC)
The main objective of this scheme was to make both state and central governments work together effectively in developing Indian sports through the integration of various sports development programs. As a result, the existing regional imbalances will be corrected through this collaboration, and a common platform for athletes to flourish will be achieved. Currently, there are about 56 STCs/Centres of Excellence in the country, having 3807 boys & 1587 girls enrolled as trainees.
4. Extension Center of STC /SAG
Extension centers of STC/SAG schemes were developed to cover schools and colleges with good results in sports under a broader umbrella and give them the required assistance to help the athletes improve their skills many folds. The trainees in this group belong to the age group of 12-18 years. Currently, there are about 70 STC/ SAG Extension Centers in India with a total strength of about 1183 trainees with 775 Boys & 408 Girls.
5. Special Area Games Scheme (SAG)
SAG schemes are unique sports schemes intended to scout talents from remote tribal, rural, and coastal areas of the country and provide them with scientific training for achieving sports excellence. The scheme also envisions discovering talents from traditional games and martial arts from regions with genetics and geographic advantages ideal for sports discipline.
6. Centre of Excellence Scheme (COX)
The scheme was started way back in 1997 for inducting sports athletes who had done well at the senior national competitions and provided them further advanced training at regional SAI centers for 330 days a year. The Center of Excellence Scheme (COX) conducts regular coaching camps to increase the talent pool to improve the bench strength and create 2nd and 3rd alternative options for national and international competitions.
7. Come and Play Scheme
This scheme was launched to encourage local sports athletes to come and utilize SAI sports facilities in Delhi and other centers. It is a fresh approach to improving Indian sports by proving that youth and local communities train under SAI coaching staff.
Indian sports has come a long way, and the standards of skills exhibited by the athletes have reached new heights proven in the Tokyo Olympics 2021 with 7 medals. The main reason is the vast improvement in the sports infrastructures and many sports schemes launched by the government to promote sports culture and give a suitable platform for budding athletes. Hopefully, we can become the No.1 sports country in the world in the future through the help of these wonderful initiatives.