Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs (IC) Vijal Goel is very much excited with the Mission XI Million. He observes in it a positive future for football in the country. Organiser Sr Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know his initiatives for promotion of sports in the country. Excerpts:
What is the main idea behind Mission XI Million?
It is a medium to promote football in 15,000 schools. Before training the school children, we are first training physical teachers in the schools who will then impart training to the children in their respective schools. The teachers will also be granted a kit each, which will help them to impart training to the students. There is lot of interest in this sport amongst the youngsters, and they are very passionate about it. We want to transform this passion into something more concrete and encourage boys and girls for playing the game and being active. This is a mission to connect with the kids to increase the passion for football and sports in India forever.
How have you planned to strengthen the basic infrastructure for sports in the country?
We have noticed that the infrastructure that we already have for sports is not being properly utilised. Our topmost priority is to utilise it to its fullest.
What is the planning to discover rural talent in sports?
Majority of the players are from rural background. Therefore, we are going to launch a web portal shortly. Anyone who knows any player in their vicinity can upload the video or resume of the player on the portal. That will help us discover and promote the sports talent in the country. Even the parents of the player, neighbours, teachers can provide us with information about the talented sportspersons.
Is merely constituting a Task Force enough for winning medals in Olympics?
The job of the Task Force is to examine and report what changes should be brought about in the field of sports so that we win more medals and how we should prepare ourselves. The Task Force will submit its report within three months.
How do you look at the constitution of a four-member committee by the Supreme Court to look into the affairs of BCCI?
The Committee will work. Our Ministry has no interference in that. We are also excited to know how the committee manages the affairs of such a big institution. We hope for the good.
The name of former CAG in the committee is understandable, but people ask what is the use of a historian in the committee?
It is not proper on my part to make any comment on it. The Court must have thought of something before including that name in the committee.
You have been Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs in the previous Vajpayee Government and now too you are holding the same Ministry. What difference do you find then and now?
Then I was the Minister of State, now I have Independent Charge. The responsibility is more. Now the powers are also more. I can take the decision that I feel is necessary to take in the benefit of the sports and the sportspersons.
How do you look at the budget hike of your Ministry this time?
Our Prime Minister is committed to promote sports. He rightly says that if children play games, they will bloom. That is why there is hike in the budget. We had also requested the Finance Minister for it. The basic thing is that if the parents do not promote their children to play, how can we promote sports in the country? There was a time when the parents waited for the children to come back home. Now they wait the children to leave home for playing. This change in mindset will make the things better. It also requires that the players in schools and colleges continue playing even after schooling.
There is huge recognition and admiration for the cricket and cricketers, but not for other games and players. Why is this discrimination?
Today respect and admiration is not the issue. Everybody gets the respect. The big issue is cash prize. Earlier, medals and certificates were sufficient. But now the expectations are high. We are promoting all the games equally whether it is wrestling, kabaddi, hockey, football, kho-kho, etc.
The presence of politicians in sports bodies has been under question since beginning. What if the sports bodies are managed by the sportspersons only?
There are good, bad and capable or incapable people in every section of the society. Hence, only blaming the politicians is not correct. Sometimes it is witnessed that the sportspersons perform better in the field but they are not able to manage the system. Therefore, a mix of people is necessary.