‘What matters in sports is talent’ – The Hindu

Prof. G.L Khanna is a former Senior Scientific Officer from National Institute of Sports Patiala, Sports Authority of India and is working as Professor and Dean of Faculty of Applied Sciences of Manav Rachna International University Faridabad.

He has been playing an active role in various sports faculties and government policies and is presently a member of Olympic Task Force. In this interview, he talks about the Task Force and various sports facilities that need to be provided to young athletes.

Over the years, do you think there has been some change in the field of sports?

A lot has changed in sports. Historically, people were aware about the limited sports that were played but now, over time, other sports such as tennis, badminton, gymnastics and so on have evolved. Earlier, it was only cricket and some individual sportspersons who forayed into the international sports arena. But now. with different types of sports leagues coming up, there are so many individuals who have the opportunity to play a wide array of sports and bring laurels for their country. One positive change that is the evolution of women sports players. Be it Saniya Mirza, Deepa Karmarkar or Deepa Malik, all of them have performed exceptionally well. Paralympics athletes too have the right platform to enhance their skills and make a difference. People today have a better understanding of sports and have become more supportive of sports as a career.

Methods to encourage talented yet economically backward youngsters?

In sports, there is no section or society, there is only a sportsperson who is determined to perform. What matters in sports is your talent. As far as finances are concerned, certain sports like cricket have easy funding, but slowly and steadily, other sports are also being sponsored. The government has always provided a platform for talented youngsters where they get the right exposure and their skills are adequately utilised.

Ways to bring kids back to the playground and away from mobile phones and indoor games?

It is vital that we inculcate sports habits in our children. Schools and colleges must start counting sports as a subject in the curriculum. Next, technology should always be seen as an enabler and not a bottle-neck.

Even international players make use of stimulated modules to enhance their game. Technology, if used right manner, can do wonders.

Your comments on the trend of children dropping out of sports professionally due to lack of money and acknowledgement.

Playing for and representing your country is a matter of great pride. Children need the right kind of motivation and direction to work wonders for their country.

Sports in India is well recognised and appreciated. With the increase in sports leagues, everyone is getting an opportunity to play and participation in sports has increased manifold.

How is the Olympic Task Force planning to help India’s young athletes?

The Task Force will be preparing a comprehensive action plan for the next three Olympics to be held in 2020, 2024 and 2028. It is also expected to suggest effective methods to identify core probable/medal prospects for 2020 Olympics, their coaches and support staff.

The committee will also help in selecting components of world-class support system for top-ranking sportspersons and lay down strategies. The committee will also provide significant inputs towards improving the standards of coaching and sports scientists within the country.

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