Announcing a slew of measures linked to Olympic sports, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel on Thursday said that athletes would receive a stipend closer to the Olympics during their training period. For athletes training within the country, it would be a lakh rupees every month while for those choosing to train abroad, the amount would be a $100 per day.

The announcements were made at a press conference held in New Delhi.

The focus was also on coaches, as Goel stated that Sports Authority of India, Patiala had received approval to run international coaching courses, which would be integrated with the existing program and added that the Sports Ministry had hired “many” international coaches recently.

50% of these coaches will be on a contract basis, with a committee being set-up to review and appraise the performance of these coaches. Goel also said that all existing coaches would undergo physical and mental fitness examinations before continuing in their roles.

“The focus will also be on providing coaches with international exposure. We have already sent 25 coaches to Birmingham recently,” said Goel stressing that athletes would be also provided with personal coaches and equipment if necessary.

Addressing the recent furore surrounding the Olympic delegation sent to Rio, Goel stated that henceforth, coaches and not Federation presidents or secretaries would make up a majority of the team heading to multi-disciplinary international events.

The Sports Minister also condemned the Indian Olympic Association’s action of appointing the tainted Suresh Kalmadi as a lifetime president and stated that it violated the National Sports Development Code.

“We would like to give the federations autonomy in running their affairs and provide them with grants as well, but if they do not adhere to the Sports Code, we will suspend them. We will also review the Code, and it may get converted into a Sports Bill,” said Goel.

The Sports Ministry will also hold a bi-monthly review meeting with the IOA. Observers for each sport have been set up and Goel revealed that the swimming and boxing observers had sent in their reports. These observers will also act as a direct link with the athletes, Goel announced.

The National Talent Search Portal, which will aim to scout for young talent under eight years will be used to identify young athletes and a scholarship will be provided to deserving candidates for a maximum duration of eight years.

Finally, Goel said he was working with the HRD Ministry to set up more playgrounds, “Currently, 6.5 lakh schools in the country don’t have playgrounds. We will concentrate on building playgrounds in the tribal areas as the majority of good sportsmen come out of these regions.”