Deep Sengupta, a Grand Master in chess and a student of SRM University rues the fact that India lags behind when it comes to sports while we does so well in knowledge-driven sectors. “There is every possibility for us to become a sports giant. With so much talent spread throughout the country, what we need is just to tap it and nourish it properly just as we did in the Information Technology sector. The only problem is that as a career sports is still at a nascent state in India. There is hardly a handful of sportsperson who can say they are truly professional,” says Sengupta. What he says rings true as in the cricket-crazy nation all other sports take a back-seat.
The geographical divide
There maybe certain pockets of brilliance across the country, but overall, universities in the north have fared well in comparison to their counterparts in the rest of the country. A few universities from the north top the table at the all-India level tournaments conducted by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).
Punjabi University, Patiala stands out for its performance, followed by Kurukshetra, Panjab, and Gurunanak Dev. Their success stories are backed by good infrastructure and training facilities on their campuses. Sports administrators and coaches give their best, helping their universities outdo others in a big way. “Once the talent is identified then long-term coaching camps are conducted to hone them. Thereafter their selection is done without any prejudice, free of any outside pressure,” shares Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Sports Director, Punjabi University, Patiala.
Senior national Archery champion Parveena Verma honing her skills (Left). AIU Boxing Championship at LPU (Left). Dr HS Randhawa, Director of Sports at Guru Nanak Dev University receiving the ‘MaulanaAbulKalam Azad Trophy’ from the President (Right). GNDU won the highest national sports award at the varsity level - for a record 22nd time for the year 2010-11
The big league
Out of the Top 10 universities that dominate at the national level, six are from the north. These six universities took the pole position in 32 national competitions apart from winning six inter-zonal contests. If one looks at the results table of AIU, out of these 32, Punjabi University (Patiala) won 8 national and one inter-zonal competition. GNDU (Amritsar) won 3 national and one inter-zonal competition while Panjab University (Chandigarh) took 6 national and one inter-zonal title. Kurukshetra put up a good performance winning 7 national and two inter-zonal competitions. MDU (Rohtak) also fared well with 5 national championships and Delhi University came close with 3 national and two inter-zonal titles. Rest of the four universities clinched five titles.
Dr Gurdeep Singh, Joint Secretary (Sports), Association of Indian Universities (AIU)
"Sport should be declared as an industry with enough investments and this will get reflected in terms of results"
“Our university authorities give continuous support by providing financial assistance and infrastructure facilities to sportspersons,” says three times Archery champion ParveenaVerma of Punjabi University. Academies for various sports like cycling, wrestling, archery, football, weightlifting etc., are functioning on the campus. All the coaches, with their helpful attitude ensure that the players are free from any tension. This translates into excellent achievements, says Dr Raj Kumar Sharma. GNDU’s Sports Director Dr H.S. Randhawa is quick to point out that physical education personnel in affiliated colleges of the university toil hard and that they get wholehearted support from the college managements.
Why India isn’t world class
Indian universities are not a big name on the international stage due to the lack of world-class infrastructure. Out of 700+ universities in India only 20 to 25 universities have adequate infrastructure. According to Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, in foreign countries all players get world-class facilities and top coaches. They also pay special attention on the sportspersons’ daily diet and training. But this is not exactly the case in India. According to Dr Gurdeep Singh, Indians are better in games like shooting, archery, tennis, hockey, and badminton that are skill-based and not power games.
Universities with good sports infrastructure
University of Calcutta
University of Pune
University of Madras
University of Mumbai
University of Ranchi
MS University, Vadodara
Better facilities needed
Experts say sports and physical education should be integrated in the education curriculum of the universities. Students should also be made aware of the need to be physically fit and participate in sports activities. “Right persons should be at the right place for the right cause. Then only can we promote sports in our country,” says Dr Gurdeep Singh. International exposure is another neglected area. Jasmine Dua, national fencing champion says, “Government should treat all games at par and should send more and more teams to participate in international competitions to ensure that more players get exposure which will eventually help them improve their standards.”
The government seems to be aware of this lacuna. India has signed agreements with a number of countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Belarus, China, Cuba, Turkey, Mauritius and New Zealand for exchange of experts and information in various fields such as sports science, sports education, sports management, sports infrastructure development, fitness education and fitness development programmes, to name a few.
Deep Sengupta chess Grand Master, SRM University
"There is every possibility for us to become a sports giant. With so much talent spread throughout the country, what we need is just to tap it and nourish it properly just as we did in the IT sector "
Abhishek Verma, GNDU Asian Gold Medalist in Archery
"Those who want to help Indian sports must try to adopt a game which is not a money-making one like cricket. What about our national game, hockey?"
Students should give attention to the fact that outstanding sportspersons can make a career out of sports. Those who succeed in national level competitions get selected for jobs in sports quota in the private and public sector. It also helps them get admissions for higher studies through the same route. It also helps them in their career as most sportspersons get out-of-turn promotions.
According to Dr Vaithianathan (Director Sports), SRM University, AIU should ensure that Indian University teams participate in most of the competitions in the World University championship. A major issue for all Indian universities is shortage of funds. This is also reflected in sports-related scientific research and development wherein Indian universities have not been able to match international standards. AIU’s Dr Gurdeep Singh says, against a proposed budget of Rs 5.50 crores for conducting games, training, scientific support, prevention of drug abuse, etc. they get only Rs. 1.86 crore for organizing 140+ events throughout the country. If this is the state of affairs, India has indeed a long way to go before it makes any impact in sports.
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