There is no dearth of talent in Punjab but the state needs to create better infrastructure and provide more facilities to youngsters to hone their skills, senior cricketer Harbhajan Singh said on Saturday.
"These days, very few kids are coming out to play an outdoor sport. To encourage them, we have to create better infrastructure and give them more facilities," the veteran off-spinner, who was chief guest at the launch of a cricket academy of former player Reetinder Sodhi, said.
When asked how Reetinder's academy, which he has opened in St Stephens School in Mohali's Togan village will benefit the kids, Harbhajan said, "In Punjab, even today (sports) infrastructure is lacking. We need more academies like these to come up, these facilities can be in the government or the private sector."
"We need to encourage more and more kids to go out and play outdoor games. It is good to see that Reetinder has opened this academy. From government side too, something has to be done so that more and more kids are encouraged to play. There is no dearth of talent in Punjab," he said.
Harbhajan said it's a matter of concern that kids are getting hooked to their gadgets these days.
"While many kids are hooked these days to gadgets like smart phones, there are some parents who feel that their kids may land up in bad company if they go out. But the point is that if good institutes and academies come up and better infrastructure is created, I am sure kids will be encouraged and then we can convert and channelise the talent of these young kids in a positive manner," Harbhajan said while speaking to PTI.
He also said that sports culture in Punjab needs to be revived.
"We have fallen behind a lot. If you see, after me and Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), no player played for India in cricket. I am not ready to accept that we are lacking in talent, talent is abundant.
"If we give good facilities and create good opportunities for the young talent, they will shine. We will not only create champions but also create a lot of healthy people and good citizens," the 37-year-old cricketer said.
Asked about sportspersons from neighbouring Haryana bringing laurels both at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, Singh said, "While these sportspersons are bringing medals for their country, they are also making their state proud. I am sure they (Haryana) must be doing something better than us (Punjab)."
He also said that Punjab needs to revive its old glory in sports. Harbhajan said that he was keenly following the Commonwealth Games, and was proud of the country's sportspersons who have brought laurels.
"When our tricolour flies high, it makes all of us very proud," he said.
About IPL, he said, "Hopefully, we can lift the trophy for Super Kings."
He also said, "IPL is all about bringing the talent out. A lot of talent has come up, not for India, but even for other counties as well, so it is a great platform."
"You will see a lot of U-19 players, they will do well in years to come," he said.