New Delhi: The government's ambitious Khelo India Games initiative will be expanded in the next few years to include a separate women's championship, sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore announced on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference at the sidelines of the ongoing Khelo India School Games (KISG), Rathore said the number of disciplines in the ongoing event will also be increased from the current 16.
The KISG will be followed by the College Games.
"There will be encouragement of women's sports and for that there will be a separate championship within the Khelo India. We now have 16 sports in the Khelo India School Games but next year we will increase this number," Rathore said.
"Unless we create an aspiration level in these Games there cannot be upward movement in Indian sports. Any child in every school can aspire to be in the Khelo India Games and become a hero."
The sports minister expressed happiness at the standard of competition at the ongoing Games and hoped that it will further improve.
"We wanted to create something on the lines of College Games of America. We are proud of the standard we have set which every Khelo India Games will follow in future. I am happy that this standard was better than we have thought," he said.
"Today, the level of performance may not be as high as probably what the international level demands but I am very confident that in three to four years the level of competition will be as high as international level."
He said from the organisational point of view the KISG have set a high standard.
"This is the first time that the sports ministry and the SAI have been organising such an event, the NSFs have been doing this all along. But I feel we have organised the Games very well so far.
"We had earlier planned to hold the the Games next year but then decided to have it this year.
Despite this short time, it has been a very good organisation of the Games. We will continue to improve by learning from this edition," said the Olympic medallist shooter.
He said the KISG will provide the "pathway" for the talented youngsters reach the highest level from school and college levels.
"All the young children need not wait for the Olympics. With Khelo India, we will have a level similar in organisation with that of Olympics.
"You can live with your dream at the first level at Khelo India Games and then College Games and then in line for podium in Commonwealth and Asian Games. Then, I am sure we will have Olympic medallists. That is the pathway we want to create."
At the end of every Games in the next five years, 1000 talented children will be selected and they will be given scholarship of Rs 5 lakh for eight years.
The aim is to groom athletes who can win medals in the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.
The athletes will be selected by a panel (Talent Identification Committee) consisting of Arjuna and Dronacharya Awardees in each of the disciplines. These selected youngsters will be sent to academies —government and private— for training.
"We will also give funds to those talented athletes who is training with personal coaches," said Rathore.
He also said that there has been positive impact of the Games in the states.
Some of the members of the Talent Identification Committee (TIDC) like Karnam Malleswari, Kunjarani Devi and Jagbir Singh hailed the government's initiative as a step in right direction.
Asked about the steps taken by the ministry to prevent age-fudging in these Games, KISG CEO Sandip Pradhan said, "We have obtained eligibility certificates from the NSFs and verified by a three-member committee.
"After the Games, we will again shortlist the athletes and conduct scientific tests to determine the age of the selected athletes," he said.
Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 21:17 PM