Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said the government is set to implement the Target Olympic Podium Scheme in the junior level from this year to encourage youngsters to take up sports.

The Tops scheme is a flagship program of the Sports Ministry for providing financial assistance to India’s top athletes. “From this year we are going to start junior Tops. We will start funding the juniors in the age bracket of of 12-15,” he said.

“The parents need not worry about taking care of the child who is interested in sports. If we see potential the government will definitely take care of them,” Rijiju said during a book launch. “We have to change the way we look at sports, we have to change the way we take sports.”

The Sports Minister said Indians need to change their mindset to become a sporting powerhouse. “Sports is something which is reflected in your action. You can’t blame anybody for India not being able to perform in the Olympics. No matter how much we try if we cannot change the mindset it would be difficult,” Rijiju said.

“India cannot afford to do that to become a sporting powerhouse. We need to compete and perform across the sport to be there at the top. The size of India is not suitable to talk about 3-4 medals. We should be talking about figuring in top-10 in 2028 Olympics.”

Emphasising on the need to promote sports among school children and at the university level, Rijiju said: “Why have we started Khelo India University Games? Why have we started Khelo India Youth Games? We are going to start the Indigenous Games next year to bring a sports culture in the society.”

“University Games is where you get the champions. Most of the Olympic champions are from universities. We have a School Games Federation in India but we never had School Games. These structural changes we are bringing about is going to have revolutionary effect,” he added.