New Delhi: Former captain Kapil Dev doffed his hat at the rise of cricket as a career option for youngsters, saying that parents now encourage their children to take up the game to earn a living.
"Now a cricketer can earn Rs 10 crore for playing 40 days only (in the IPL). It is just fantastic. Cricket is a career option now," Kapil said during his address at the 7th Global Sports Summit organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.
"Times have changed and the thought process has changed. Now parents say to their children 'if you do not want to study you can at least play cricket and become a Sachin Tendulkar or a Rahul Dravid'," the 1983 cricket World Cup-winning captain said.
Kapil asked the government to provide the required sports infrastructure, including play fields, and reduce tax on sports goods and equipment.
"The corporate has done their part by way of sponsorship and media have done their part by making sports, especially cricket, big. I think the government will have to do its part by giving sports infrastructure if India wants to produce champions," he said.
"The government will have to provide the sports infrastructure. Reduce the tax on sports goods and equipments. I heard that shooters have issues on importing their equipment and ammunition. The government will have to make it easy to bring in sports goods and equipments by reducing taxes on these," he said in the presence of Sports Secretary Rajiv Yadav.
He also said that every school in the country should have enough play fields.
"Schools are the places from where talent will come and if there are not enough play fields, how will the country produce world champions. 40 per cent of the premises of all schools should be play fields," said Kapil.
Responding to Kapil's plea, Yadav said that because of the limited budgetary allocation for sports, it's difficult for his ministry to provide all the facilities and it needs help from the corporate sector to build infrastructure.
"The budget allocation for 2015-16 is just Rs 835 crore, whereas it should be at the range of Rs 6000 crore. With limited sports budget we cannot give all the infrastructure and we need a bit of help from the corporate sector," Yadav said.
Yadav informed that the Finance Ministry has accepted that sports infrastructure building by corporates will get concessional finance from the government. He said it was a good beginning though short of corporate sector's demand to give sports the status of an industry.
"We had a meeting with Finance Ministry a few days back and the government has accepted that sports infrastructure building (by the corporate sector) will get concessional finance and this is a good news for the corporates," he said.
When queried by FICCI sports director Rajpal Singh whether the acceptance by the Finance Ministry would mean that sports will fully be given the status of an industry, Yadav said, "No, it's not full acceptance. Sports infrastructure building, training academies will be included for concessions but not the competition structure and coaching etc. They are not included for concessions.
"But it is a good beginning. We can start at least with something," he added.
He said he will take up the issue of provision of state-of-the-art sports facilities at the smart city project of the government.
"You can't have smart cities without state-of-the-art sports facilities. I will take up the matter with officials of the Urban Development Ministry.
"But you will need at least Rs 500 crore to build a sports complex in such smart cities while at the district headquarter, the amount could be Rs 150 crore at least," said the sports secretary.
Yadav also said that the School Games will be promoted in a big way from the coming 2016-17 financial year.
"We are looking at two tiers of talent grooming. First, from the 2016-17 onwards, we are going to promote School Games in a big way. Another is to revamp competition structure at the university level so as groom the talent identified at the school level."