As we await to celebrate National Sports Day and the Birth Anniversary of India’s most respected and celebrated sportsperson in modern history, “Major Dhyan Chand”, we really need to introspect as a nation, and we should ask ourselves are we doing enough for the sports? Have we learned from the lives and struggles of sports legends who carried aspirations of this great nation on their shoulders without much support, infrastructure and basic facilities? As a nation, we have made it a habit to celebrate wins that are coming out of efficiency.

If we will introspect well enough we will easily understand that even now most of our players are coming from deprived backgrounds and they had to struggle a lot even for an opportunity to participate in their game. We celebrated the historic performance of the Indian contingent in the recently concluded commonwealth games and previous Olympics games, and rightly so we should be proud of our athletes for putting up a great show, but unfortunately, if you’ll listen to their stories and struggles, you will understand that they have sacrificed a lot on their way to the podium. It’s high time we change our mindset, and stop celebrating inefficiency and inadequacy, in fact, our focus should be to provide the best of facilities to the young players so that they don’t suffer on their journey to become successful sports persons at the international level. We need to ensure that financial, geographical or demographic challenges are not deterring our young athletes anymore, there should be enough opportunities for young children to participate in sports and to dream of wearing national colors one day.

The defined purpose of celebrating National Sports Day is to celebrate the legacy of Major Dhyanchand, which reminds us of our invincible national hockey team of 1920’s-1960’s and stories of their Olympic glory. This day reminds us that it is not that we don’t know how to become world champions or we don’t have potential, but something is really wrong in the system and we need to recognize that. We have seen that the government has taken many initiatives in the last 8-10 years for the upliftment of sports. The players are being provided with every kind of support, medal winners are being encouraged greatly by showering them with prize money and other perks. This is all great and no doubt we are making progress.

Despite all the progress we have made in sports, the reality is that we are still not in the top 10 nations in the Olympics. Many smaller countries with fewer resources are way ahead of us. It’s not because they are superior, it’s because they have made strong sports institutions that are administered efficiently to create enough opportunities for their young athletes. Whereas most of our sports administration bodies are gripped with inefficiency and corruption. They are being administered by non-sports persons and they are not doing enough for the development of sports at the grassroots level. On this national sports day, we must introspect on what needs to be done, especially if you are associated with sports and physical education directly or indirectly.

As we have recently celebrated 75 years of independence and pledged together as a nation to make India a developed country in the next 25 years, we must remember that no country or society can be acknowledged as developed until and unless it has achieved excellence in sports as well. Therefore, we need to work towards the development of sports in mission mode as well.

The sports administration bodies and office bearers must be made accountable for their performance, their terms at chair should be limited. Corporations need to invest more in sports under their CSR initiatives. We as people should encourage our children to participate in sports from a young age. We must ensure that their schools are also providing them with sports opportunities. There are many government programs that are being executed for the promotion of sports, such as Khelo India, Fit India etc. We must support such programs for awareness on a larger scale.

The upcoming Olympics will be a significant test for India’s rise in the world in the field of sports. We are sure that authorities, coaches and athletes are doing their best. We as people should ensure that there is maximum awareness across the country about the Olympics. This will greatly encourage the athletes who are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics. On this National sports day let us ensure that there should be only one resolution on this national sports day, “Glory at Tokyo Olympics 2024”.

Dr. Piyush Jain

National Secretary – PEFI