CHENNAI: There is welcome news for Tamil Nadu athletes. After announcing the ‘Mission International’ scheme last year, the state government has shortlisted 37 sportspersons. Introduced this year, the scheme aims at supporting athletes from financially weaker sections who have shown potential at national and international events.
A total of 50 sportspersons will be identified, of which five will be from the differently able category. Each of them will be eligible for a maximum annual stipend of Rs 10 lakh. “There is so much potential in the state and sports have become very competitive at the international level,” Dheeraj Kumar, principal secretary of the Youth Welfare and Sports Development Department, told Express on Friday. The eligibility criteria is simple.
In senior category, athletes to have won gold or silver medals in national-level tourneys are eligible. In subjunior and junior sections, only those who won medals in international meets are considered. Athletes from across disciplines will be part of this scheme.
“Quality training is required to be on a par with the world’s best. A lot of exposure to international events is needed. But many families are not in a position to manage sufficient funds.
Therefore, the government has launched this scheme wherein athletes will be identified and given support for sports-related activities such as training, participation and purchase of equipment. This will meet the needs of athletes who are struggling to come up the ladder due to financial constraints,” informed Dheeraj.
The official added that athletes will be under this scheme for a minimum of two years. “After two rounds of meeting, the selection committee listed 37. This includes four who bagged medals in Para Asian Games last year. The athlete will be in the scheme for two years. It can be extended to a few more years. In sports, performance is dynamic.
The list cannot be static. There has to be continuous evaluation. We’ll be supporting for a minimum of two years, see how they perform and then take a call on renewal,” Dheeraj said. Twelve-year-old table tennis player Preyesh Raj, triple jumper Praveen Chitravel, who claimed bronze in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last year, are the notable names selected so far.
Dheeraj said the focus will be on identifying young athletes to help them participate in more international events. “The idea is to select them at a tender age. Earlier, we had no mechanism to help them. With this scheme, we are expecting to support more young guns.”