Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri Yogi Adityanath ji, Union Sports Minister Shri Anurag Thakur ji, my cabinet colleague Nisith Pramanik ji, Deputy CM of Uttar Pradesh Brijesh Pathak ji, other dignitaries, and many congratulations to all the players participating in the Khelo India University Games. Today UP has become a confluence of young sports talents from all over the country. Most of the 4,000 players who are participating in the Khelo India University Games are from different states and regions. I am the MP of Uttar Pradesh. I am the representative of the people of Uttar Pradesh. And therefore, being a Member of Parliament from UP, I extend a special welcome to all the sportspersons who have come to UP to take part in the ‘Khelo India University Games’.
The closing ceremony of these games will be held in Kashi. Being the MP of Kashi, I am also very excited about this. The third edition of the Khelo India University Games is very special in itself as the country is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. It has become a great medium to develop the team spirit among the youth of the country and strengthen the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’. The youths will be introduced to different regions during these games. There will also be a connection between the youth of different cities of UP where matches will be held. I am sure that the young sportspersons who have come to participate in the Khelo India University Games will return with an experience that they will cherish for a lifetime. I wish you all the very best for the upcoming competitions.
A new era of sports has begun in India in the last nine years. This new era is not just about making India a major sporting power in the world. Rather, this is also a new era of empowerment of society through sports. There was a time when there was a feeling of indifference towards sports in our country. Very few people thought that sports could also be a career. It was because the sports were not getting the support and cooperation they should have got from the governments. No attention was paid to the sports infrastructure and the needs of the players were also not taken care of. Therefore, it was very difficult for the poor and middle class children and for the children of the villages and countryside to move forward in sports. There was also a growing feeling in the society that sports are nothing but spending free time. Most of the parents also felt that the child should join the profession which would ‘settle’ his life. Sometimes I think that the country might have lost many great players because of this mentality. But today I am happy that there has been a big change in the attitude of parents and society towards sports. Sports are seen as an attractive profession to move forward in life. And the Khelo India campaign has played a big role in this regard.
The scam during the Commonwealth Games is a living example of the attitude of the previous governments towards sports. The sports competition, which could have been useful for establishing India’s prestige in the world, got mired in corruption. Earlier, there existed a scheme for the children of our villages and countryside to get a chance to play. It was called ‘Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan’. Later its name was changed to ‘Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan’. In this campaign also, the focus was only on changing the name and there was not much emphasis on developing sports infrastructure in the country.
Earlier, the biggest challenge before every player, either from a village or a city, was that he had to go far away from his home for the practice sessions. As a result, players used to spend a lot of time and many times they had to live in other cities. Many youths were forced to give up their passion because of this problem. Today, our government is also taking care of the decades-old challenge of sportspersons. The previous government spent only Rs 300 crore in six years for the urban sports infrastructure scheme which existed then, whereas, our government has spent about Rs 3,000 crore on sports infrastructure under the Khelo India campaign. It has now become easier for more players to join the sports due to the growing sports infrastructure. I am satisfied that more than 30,000 athletes have participated in the Khelo India Games till now. Importantly, 1500 Khelo India athletes have been spotted and financial assistance is being given to them. They are also being given top class training in modern sports academies. This year’s central sports budget has also been increased three times compared to what it was nine years ago.
Today, modern sports infrastructure is also being developed near the villages. Better grounds, modern stadiums and modern training facilities are now being developed even in far-flung areas of the country. In UP too, thousands of crores of rupees are being spent on sports projects. The facilities which existed in Lucknow have also been expanded. Today the Sigra Stadium in Varanasi is coming out in a modern avatar. Modern facilities are being developed here for the youth with an outlay of about Rs 400 crore. Under the Khelo India programme, assistance has also been provided for synthetic hockey ground in Lalpur, multipurpose hall in Veer Bahadur Singh Sports College, Gorakhpur, synthetic hockey ground in Meerut and synthetic running track in Saharanpur. Similar facilities will be further expanded under the Khelo India programme in the near future.
We are also laying special emphasis so that players get an opportunity to participate in maximum competitions. The more a player participates in sports competitions, the more he is benefited, the more his talent gets enhanced. They also realise their level and identify the areas of improvement. What are their shortcomings, mistakes and challenges? This was also a major reason behind the launch of the Khelo India School Games a few years back. Today it has expanded to Khelo India University Games and Khelo India Winter Games. Thousands of players of the country are competing under this program and are moving forward on the strength of their talent. And I am happy that many MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party organise Saansad sports competitions. Thousands of youths, sons and daughters participate in sports in each parliamentary constituency. Today the country is also getting its pleasant results. Over the years, our players have excelled in many international competitions. This shows how high the confidence of our young players of India is today.
The government is standing with the players at every step, be it skills related to sports, or other disciplines to make them better players. Sports is proposed to be taught as a subject in our National Education Policy. Sports is now going to be a part of the curriculum. The creation of the country’s first National Sports University will further help in this regard. Now efforts are being made for sports specialized higher education in the states as well. Uttar Pradesh is doing a commendable job in this regard. The example of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University in Meerut is in front of us. Apart from this, 1000 Khelo India Centers are also being set up across the country today. About two dozen National Centers of Excellence have also been opened. Training and sports science support is being provided at these centers to improve performance. Khelo India has also restored the prestige of India’s traditional sports. Our government is also giving scholarships to encourage various disciplines like Gatka, Mallakhamb, Thang-ta, Kalaripayattu and Yogasan.
Another encouraging result from the Khelo India program has been the participation of our daughters. Khelo India Women’s League is being organized in many cities of the country. I am told that about 23,000 women athletes of different age groups have participated in it so far. The Khelo India University Games also see participation from a large number of female athletes. I especially convey my best wishes to the daughters participating in these Games.
All of you have entered the arena of games at a time which is certainly India’s period. India’s progress lies in your talent and progress. You are the future champions. It is the responsibility of all of you to expand the glory of the Tricolour. Therefore, we must remember some points. We often talk about sportsmanship and team spirit. What is this sportsmanship after all? Is it just limited to accepting defeat and victory? Is it limited to teamwork only? The meaning of sportsmanship is wider than this. Rising above vested interests, sports inspires collective success. Sports teaches us to follow dignity and rules. Circumstances can often be against you in the field. It is possible that sometimes decisions may also go against you. But the player does not lose his composure and he is always committed to the rules. The characteristic of a player is how to stay within the limits of rules and regulations and how to overcome his opponent with patience. A winner becomes a great player only when he always follows the spirit of sportsmanship and dignity. A winner becomes a great player only when the society takes inspiration from his conduct. Therefore, all of you my young friends must keep these points in mind while you play. I am sure you will play and also blossom in these university games. Once again, many congratulations to all of you! Play well and move forward! Thank you!
My best wishes to the young friends taking part in the Khelo India University Games being held in Uttar Pradesh. https://t.co/jVtu3eWinC— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 25, 2023
Khelo India University Games have become a great way to promote team spirit among the youth. pic.twitter.com/9jusmNfWeD— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 25, 2023
ये खेल के माध्यम से समाज के सशक्तिकरण का नया दौर है। pic.twitter.com/YIj06sJJpS— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 25, 2023
Sports is being considered as an attractive profession. pic.twitter.com/m8op5cWakA— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 25, 2023
Making sports a part of the curriculum. pic.twitter.com/MmoSO5noQJ— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 25, 2023
खेल, निहित स्वार्थ से ऊपर उठकर, सामूहिक सफलता की प्रेरणा देता है।— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 25, 2023
खेल हमें मर्यादा का पालन करना सिखाता है, नियमों से चलना सिखाता है। pic.twitter.com/FEvHEZkejt