Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju is set to hold a two-day online meeting with his counterparts from various states and Union Territories, starting July 14, in order to chalk out a roadmap for the development of grassroot-level sports.

The meeting will also discuss activities of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and National Service Scheme during the coronavirus-forced lockdown period, reported PTI.

According to a sports ministry statement, the agenda of the meeting is to review action taken during the pandemic, as well as hold discussions on restarting sporting activities at the state-level and identification of budding sports talent through competitions at block and district levels, added the report.

Speaking about the decision to hold the meeting, Rijiju is quoted as saying: “The country is in the second phase of unlock now and it is important to have a dialogue with the states to align the way forward for sports and youth related activities. During the lockdown, activities of both youth affairs and sports have continued keeping in mind the larger goals that have been set.”

Rijiju also praised the 75 lakh volunteers who have helped the civic bodies in country’s war against the dreaded virus.

“Our NYKS and NSS volunteers have worked relentlessly alongside civil bodies to help in the fight against Covid-19.

“About 75 lakh volunteers across India have been involved in creating awareness about safety and health guidelines, distribution of masks, helping the elderly among many other things. Their contribution in this fight against the pandemic has won them praise from various state governments.”

He also spoke about the online classes which has received good response from athletes.

“In sports too, despite closure of on-field training, online training has been conducted for athletes of all levels as well as for coaches, so that athletes and coaches could remain closer to the sport.
“We want to assess the impact of all these activities and also plan the way forward, in collaboration with the states,” he added.

During the meeting, inclusion of fitness and sports as part of the curriculum in all schools across the country is expected to come up for discussion. The two-day meet will also deliberate on plans to conduct Khelo India events and Youth Festivals later in 2020 or early next year.

“Strengthening of the sports ecosystem at the grassroot level is crucial if we want to realise the dream of making India one of the top 10 countries at the Olympic podium in 2028, and we must start that process now,” the union minister said.

“The Sports Ministry has already decided to set up Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) in all states and UTs. Further, 1000 Khelo India Centres (KIC) at the district level will be set up to enable local talent to be identified and trained in 14 identified Olympic sport and traditional sports.

“Both the KISCEs and KICs will strengthen the grassroot-level sports ecosystem in India in a big way, and states have a big role to play in it. Also, the one state, one sport policy that the government has made needs to be discussed and implemented early.”

The states have been divided into two groups over the two days to allow every participating state time to discuss various issues during the meeting, added the PTI report.

(With PTI inputs)