‘Focus is to Nurture These Sports’

Union Minister of State for Sports & Youth Affairs and Information & Broadcasting talks about the new forms of martial arts that are leaving a prominent imprint in sports circles.
Rathore with Wushu winners
Rathore with Wushu winners

Union Minister of State for Sports & Youth Affairs and Information & Broadcasting talks about the new forms of martial arts that are leaving a prominent imprint in sports circles.

What are the Sports Ministry’s plans to popularise the new forms of martial arts such as Kurash, Ju-jitsu, Sambo, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai at school and college level?

We see a lot of potential in these martial art forms, especially Kurash and Wushu, as far as medals are concerned. In the Asian Games 2018, we won two medals in Kurash, though this was the first time that the game was included in the Asian Games and we were participating in it. In Wushu, we bagged four bronze medals and Narendra Grewal bagged medals in two consecutive Asian Games, 2014 and 2018. So, we are very upbeat about these sports, and see a lot of potential. 

To ensure that athletes interested in these sports get the right world-class training, the ministry is building centres for indigenous martial art forms. The idea is two-pronged. On the one hand, we will restore and revive these age-old sports, and on the other, we will be able to add more medals to our bag.

The participation in these games in the country is in a nascent stage, but if results, for Kurash for instance, is anything to go by, we have a bright future to look forward to. As far as promoting them at the school and college levels is concerned, the Sports Ministry recognises the School Games Federation of India and the Association of Indian Universities, and funds them. Both these institutions promote a number of sports through schools and colleges across the country.

And given the prospects of these indigenous martial art forms, it is imperative that with time, they will be included. Currently, SAI runs the IGMA (Indigenous Games and Martial Arts) scheme, which is a sub-scheme under the National Sports Talent Contest Scheme; through this we have adopted schools and akharas in various parts of the country to help promote indigenous games, and with the new academies the thrust on these games will only increase. 

Are there any plans by the Sports Ministry to give recognition to Kurash and Sambo or Ju-jitsu because these are promising ones going by the recent medal haul at the Asian Games? 
As you know, the government has to recognise a sport through a federation. And for a federation to be recognised by the government, they will have to abide by the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011, and other pre-set guidelines. The federation also needs to be recognised by the international body of that particular sport and also the IOA. So, once the federations are in place, it will become easier for the government to support. But, like I said, these sports have a good future in terms of medals in international events and the government is serious about promoting and supporting them. 

Do you plan to organise Martial Arts Games on the lines of Khelo India Games like in Europe, China, Korea, etc?
We are creating a new crop of athletes of these sports forms. To hold national-level games, you need athletes who play the game at a competitive level. As of now, those numbers are just growing, as is the popularity of these games. I am sure, within a few years we will either include these in our Khelo India Games or have a separate contest. As of now, the focus is to nurture and promote these sports. 

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