“Free kids from cyber-slavery through sports, says Maharashtra minister

In this age of technology, India needs to groom a strong sports culture in the country  to wean away  its youth from the clutches of ‘Cyber-Slavery’, and Maharashtra is highlighting one such way by holding the 2nd edition of the “Khelo India Youth Games”  for national youths at Mumbai and Pune from January 9 to 20  this year.

The opening ceremony of this event will be held at Pune in the presence of Union Minister of Sports and Youth Welfare Major Rajyavardhan Rathore, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra Sports Minister Vinod Tawde and other dignitaries.

Vinod Tawde, Maharashtra Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare, said here today that this mammoth extravaganza – costing Rs 40 crore with 50% support from the Central Government and of which amount 80% would be spent on the required infrastructure – is a platform  to identify and nurture the country’s best junior sporting talent in the age groups of Under-17 and Under-21 in 18 sporting disciplines.

Champions emerging in these disciplines during the games will be provided with financial and infrastructural assistance including scholarships and jobs to achieve their sporting aspirations, he said while noting that Maharashtra’s sporting legends like Khashaba Jadhav (India’s first individual Olympics medalist), Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, Anjali Bhagwat and many others have graced the State’s  sporting legacy.

The 18 sporting disciplines include: Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Judo, Wrestling, Badminton, Athletics, Shooting, Football, Hockey, Kho-Kho, Swimming, Boxing, Kabaddi, Lawn Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, Table tennis and Archery. Around 4,600 coaches and 13-14,000 sportspersons would be staying in good hotels, he said.

Tawde said all the sporting venues for the event have been refurbished to international standards and athletes meals would be certified by nutritional experts, besides round-the-clock physiotherapist and medical assistance being provided  as required alongside a temporary 10-bed, fully-equipped hospital and 18 ambulances on site.

Later talking to this correspondent, the Minister said that with the present generation children having  become ‘Cyber-Slaves’ of mobiles, laptops, I-Pads and so on, the Maharahtra Government is contemplating urging schools to have “One Evening per Week Without Use of Technology like Video Games , or any Electronic Gadgets.”

“Education should not be a barrier to participation in sports and we are for an open SSC Board for such students to continue studies alongside their sporting activities. We have decided that sportspersons be given 10-20 extra marks in their final examinations, besides 5% job reservation for national-level sports participants , and direct jobs for international level sports participants. Sportspersons and ‘divyangs’ can also do home-schooling for their exams while continuing their sports activities and training,” he said while adding that all this was being done to make children free from ‘Cyber-Slavery.”

Another official said that the present-day parents had become so conscious about the need for sporting activities for their children in schools, that many of them changed their childrens’ schools for not having     sports grounds. Cash rewards and awards too have contributed to parents focusing their children’s attention on sports as a career, she said.

International Arjuna Award winning athlete Rachita Mistry highlighted the need for support and encouragement being given to all athletes – and not just selected ones – in order to excel and gain recognition. “If there were 10 more sports ministers like Maharashtra  Sports Minister Vinod Tawde – who has just announced good schemes for encouraging sportspersons – then India’s sports will take off in a big way,” she added.

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