Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that the government intends to privatise some of the stadia under the Sports Authority of India to improve their administration and quality of services in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Rathore said the move was aimed at delivering better playing experience to the sportspersons. “We are keenly thinking of privatising some of our stadia to have better operations in terms of delivering sports to the sportspersons. There was a general study on how the stadia can be improved. The fact is that there is need to improve the way stadia are administered,” Rathore said.

“The stadia must have better quality of service and playing area. The sheer experience of playing needs to improve. The SAI was created before 1982 Asian Games to help in conducting the Games and looking after these stadia. The mandate has increased now from that time and I think it’s time in today’s world we bring in as many stakeholders as possible.”

He said privatisation will be done through Corporate Social Responsibility or PPP (Public Private Partnership) model. The Athens Olympics silver medallist was speaking at the launch of ELMS (Excellence in Learning and Mastering of Sports and Physical Literacy) Foundation, which aims at producing physical education experts, coaches, sports administrators to impart modern training to athletes across all levels.

He also announced that centres of the Central Sports University in Manipur will be set up in other cities. “The brick and mortar of the sports university will be in Manipur but its training will be carried out in other cities also. Centres will be opened in other places where the same curriculum will be imparted,” he said.

“We are tying up with Japan and Australia for physical education as well as for starting a bachelor programme on coaching in the Central Sports University in Manipur. We will have faculty from these countries stay in the country and we will have the technical know-how from these countries.”

He said the ministry will start a programme as part of ‘Khelo India’ to develop coaches in the country. “This will be at elite as well as basic/grassroot level. There will be coaches at grassroot level, developmental coaches, at community, college and elite level. We will tie up with international and Indian companies to build a basic standard based on which coaching education can be imparted to other coaches. We will start ‘train the trainer programme’,” said the minister.

“If better knowledge is available a sportsperson can start at a higher level right at the beginning. I am all for bringing experts from various fields into sports and managing sports as well.”

Rathore said the ministry was spending a total of Rs 60 crore for the Khelo India National School Games, which begins on January 31.

“Khelo India project will create sports infrastructure. It will be for the first time that the National School Games of U-17 level will be broadcast live from January 31. We are spending nearly Rs 60 crore collectively on bringing the Games to a level that is aspirational and memorable. We are covering 16 sports, including team sports and indigenous sports and priority sports.

“We will increase the number of sports every year. We will selecting 1000 athletes every year and that selection will be done by Arjuna and Dronacharya Awardees. We have put aside Rs 250 crore as the first sponsorship amount.” He said 2018 could be a turning point for India to become a better sporting nation.

Beijing Olympic shooting hero Abhinav Bindra, one of the foundation’s mentors besides Pullela Gopichand, revealed that many key issues were discussed during the Olympic Task Force (OTF) meetings.

“I believe that we need world-class high-performance directors/administrators in India to lead each sport’s transformation. The program will include a mix of classroom training, digital lessons and internship in world class institutions to help administrators understand the sport better.

“Our goal is to infuse a modern approach into Indian sport that will improve the standard at not just the grassroots level but at the highest level too,” he said.

Gopichand, agreed that the time was ripe for such an initiative. “We need to look at sports beyond medals and as a great opportunity for national development,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI)