RAIPUR: Once clubbed among the Bimaru (acronym coined for poor backward centrally located) states, the Chhattisgarh state surges ahead to evince its prospect as aspiring sporting powerhouse of the country by achieving world-class excellence centre and infrastructure for various games with quality training facilities.
With an intent to infuse holistic approach to fitness, playing sports and inculcating the spirit to win, the state has embarked upon with a motto "Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadbo Nava Chhattisgarh" (Playing-winning-creating new Chhattisgarh) in 2019 to take the state as major sports destination on the national map.
To achieve excellence in the sphere of sports the infrastructure matching international standard plays a pivotal role. During the past one and a half year, the state embarked upon a vision to invest in the 'smart and sustainable' sports infrastructure to expand the capabilities with superior facilities and stadiums.
Simultaneously, it formulated action plan on professional coaching and training of various sports and physical education programme to infuse sporting culture. "Sports evolve a significant role in nation-building, shaping one's personality and character. It elevates the qualities like discipline, determination, teamwork and passion for fitness. With such belief in mind we have launched sports and cultural clubs even at gram panchayat level besides the annual youth festival to embark upon the spirit of healthy sportsmanship," said the chief minister Bhupesh Baghel.
The state consequently has set up a dedicated Chhattisgarh Sports Development Authority to facilitate swift decision-making on policy and major sporting events, to promote both the modern and the traditional forms of sports. The state-of-the-art sports academies that came into existence are being regulated by the Authority.
Another reason working behind the concept of 'Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadbo Nava Chhattisgarh' was that the sports serves as a common thread binding the people of distinct nationality, caste, creed and gender together to foster a feeling of patriotism and unity.
The state's targeted objective earned appreciation from the players of national and international repute. The mega complex of Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium (also known as International Cricket Stadium, Raipur) has mesmerised many - from Vivian Richard, Ravi Shashtri, Sunil Gavaskar to Anil Kumble and others.
"We never imagined that Chhattisgarh could have such an outstanding stadium. It is simply world-class, a tough competition to world’s best stadiums," was the reaction of West Indies skipper Vivian Richard. Former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev didn’t differ from him.
Among the striking achievements for the state is the Chhattisgarh Residential Hockey Academy in the capital and the State Sports Training Centre in Bilaspur been recognised as the 'Khelo India's State Centre of Excellence'.
The swimming, wrestling and athletic 'Excellence Centre' in Bilaspur, offer the players of the state the scope to avail the best professional training facilities, with no worries to explore similar options outside Chhattisgarh.
The consistent efforts by the state yielded fruits with Hockey Academy and the Excellence Centre now been acknowledged by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Another imposing sports infrastructure that conforms the international norms and standards include first of its kind multipurpose indoor hall in north Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur and synthetic athletic track in central region of Mahasamund.
The synthetic Astro-turf hockey stadium in Raipur, Bilaspur , Rajnandgaon and Jashpur are nurturing the budding talents. The Judo Academy been set up in Durg and traditional sports ‘Malkhambha’ encouraged in the tribal belts of the state.
The mega project on Central India’s first Tennis Sports Academy in an area of 6500 square meters with world class tennis courts remains underway in the 4 acres of land in Raipur. "The sports governance in Chhattisgarh is getting a fillip. The state is achieving excellence in realising the potential to groom sporting talents," said former India womens' hockey captain Saba Anjum.
Rajendra Prasad, a former Olympian boxer, appreciated the move of the state and said, "Such sports infrastructure which is backbone of sports ecosystem will boost confidence and nurture the abilities of players towards achieving distinction in a big way."
To evolve competitive spirit and the sportsmanship, the Chhattisgarh has begun organising annual 'Chattisgarh Youth Festival' (Yuva Mahotsav). Previous year, 6521 players participated in the Mahotsav to test their ability, skill, speed and endurance.
"To promote sports and cultural activities at the grassroots level, we have Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitan Clubs (Youth Friends Club) in every 11664 grams panchayats of the state. Each club gets a monthly Rs 10000 for regulation of their activities. A separate budgetary provisions earmarked for Yuva Mahotsav," said state sports minister Umesh Patel.
"The raw sports talent are picked out from every nook and corner of Chhattisgarh through organising rural, block and district sports competitions. The players of various sports academy are provided with better facilities for hostels, scholarships, education and training," said Shweta Sinha, Director (Sports and Youth Welfare).
"When the state has been performing well in myriad sectors like industry, agricultural reforms, rural development, tribal prosperity, combatting malnutrition then why to leave behind the sports, where immense talents exist," the chief minister stated.
Chhattisgarh has been entrusted with the responsibility of training and preparing the talented archers, to represent the country in the field of archery at the Olympics-2024 under the 'One State-One Game’.