CHHATTISGARH: In 2019, Chhattisgarh embarked on an action plan with a motto ‘Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadbo Nava Chhattisgarh’ (playing-winning-creating new Chhattisgarh). The state, seen as one with a potential to become a sports destination on the national map, has invested in ‘smart and sustainable’ infrastructure to expand its capabilities in the last 20 months.
It simultaneously executed an action plan on professional coaching and training of various sports and physical education programmes to infuse sporting culture. “Sports have a significant role in nation-building, shaping one’s personality and character. It elevates the qualities of discipline, determination, teamwork, and a 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 imbibe a spirit of healthy sportsmanship”, says Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
It has set up Chhattisgarh Sports Development Authority to facilitate swift decision-making on policy and major sporting events to promote both modern and traditional forms of sports. The state-of-the-art sports academies that came into existence are being regulated by the Authority. The state has earned appreciation from players of national and international repute.
The Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium (International Cricket Stadium, Raipur) has drawn admiration from many imcluding Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Anil Kumble. “We never imagined Chhattisgarh could have such an outstanding stadium. It is world-class and in competition with world’s best stadiums,” said former West Indies skipper Vivian Richards. Former Indian captain Kapil Dev also shares his opinion.
Among the key achievements are the Chhattisgarh Residential Hockey Academy in the capital and the State Sports Training Centre in Bilaspur which has been recognised as Khelo India’s State Centre of Excellence. The swimming, wrestling and athletic ‘Excellence Centre’ in Bilaspur offers players a chance to avail the best professional training facilities. The consistent efforts have yielded fruits: the hockey academy and the Excellence Centre have been acknowledged by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
The multipurpose indoor facility in Ambikapur and the synthetic athletic track in Mahasamund are also of international standards.The astro-turf hockey stadiums in Raipur, Bilaspur, Rajnandgaon, and Jashpur are nurturing budding talents. The Judo Academy in Durg, besides the traditional sport Malkhambha, has attracted people in the tribal belts. The mega project on central India’s first tennis academy with a world-class tennis court is underway in Raipur.
“The sports governance in Chhattisgarh is getting a fillip. It is achieving excellence in realising its potential to groom sporting talents,” says Saba Anjum, former captain of Indian women’s hockey team.
Rajendra Prasad, a former Olympian boxer, said, “Such infrastructure is the backbone of the sports ecosystem.” “To promote sports and cultural activities at the grassroots level, we have Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitan Clubs in 11,664 grams panchayats of the state. Each club gets `10,000 per monh for regulation of their activities,” says Sports Minister Umesh Patel.
“Raw talents are picked through rural, block and district competitions. Players of various sports academies are provided with facilities like hostels, scholarships, education, and training”, says Shweta Sinha, Director (Sports & Youth Welfare). Chhattisgarh has been given the responsibility of training archers to represent India at the 2024 Olympics under ‘One State-One Game’ policy.