New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that treating sports merely as an “extracurricular” activity had caused a huge loss to the country. The Prime Minister was speaking after virtually inaugurating the second phase of the “Saansad Khel Mahakumbh” in Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district, organised by Lok Sabha member Harish Dwivedi. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was present at the function at the venue in Basti.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said, “There was a time when sports used to be considered as an extracurricular activity. They were considered only a means of passing time. The children were also told the same. As a result, generation after generation, a mindset developed in the society that sports are unimportant. This mentality has caused a huge loss to the country.”
He pointed out that many talents remained away from the field. “But in the last eight years, the country has left behind this old thinking. Work has been done to create a better environment for sports, so now more children and youths are looking at sports as a career option. It’s heartening that even parents are now taking sports seriously,” the PM said.
Mr Modi noted that the direct benefit of this change in people’s thinking is visible as India is constantly creating new records in the field of sports.
“We gave the best ever performance in the Olympics. Best ever performance in the Paralympics. India’s better performance in different sports is now becoming a topic of discussion. This is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go,” he said.
Talking about the “Khel Mahakumbh”, he said that it will give new opportunities to young players. “I am told that about 200 MPs in India have organised similar sports events in their respective places, in which thousands of youths have participated,” said the Prime Minister adding that in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi also, such events have started.
Mr Modi watched the first event of the competition — “kho-kho” and congratulated everyone involved in the game and wished them the very best in their pursuit.
The Prime Minister also lauded girls performing well in sports and made a mention of the spectacular showing of Shefali Verma in women’s Under-19 T-20, hitting 26 runs in an over with five fours and one six.
Stressing that the government was encouraging sportspersons at all levels, he said that the government is also providing financial assistance to the players and at present, there are more than 2,500 athletes in the country who are being given more than Rs 50,000 every month under the “Khelo India” campaign.
He informed the gathering that the players performing well in Saansad Khel Mahakumbh are being selected for further training at the Sports Authority of India centre and this will benefit them a lot.
“Our players should have adequate resources, training and international exposure. All these aspects are being worked upon,” he said.
Shedding light on the importance of the “Fit India Movement”, the Prime Minister said that every player knows the importance of fitness. Recommending the inclusion of yoga in daily lives, he said, “With yoga, your body will also be healthy and your mind will also be awake. You will also get the benefit of this in your game.”
Observing that 2023 has been declared the “International Year of Millets”, the Prime Minister noted the huge role that millets can play in the nutrition of the players. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed the belief that our youth will learn from sports and give energy to the country.