Are Indians finally embracing a sports culture

Are Indians finally embracing a sports culture? Hell yeah!!!!

“Sharma uncle ke bete se kuch seekho!!”

Growing up in India, Sharma uncle has often been a part of our lives. Rather our parents’ lives. Be it for studies, good behavior or money.

Obsessed with stability and marriage, we have always paid too much attention to education. Sports, on the other hand, mostly got the royal ignore.

But the last few years have been different. There has been a drastic shift in the country’s sports landscape.

This fact has been reinforced in the Piplsay survey in which over 26000 people across the country spoke of this changing trend

A resounding 94% people surveyed said that they will encourage their children to focus equally on sports. This shift in attitude has slowly started to reflect on the ground as well

While an increasing number of schools have started laying emphasis on sports, even the government has sought to integrate sports into the school curriculum. This move already has a lot of support as shown by the overwhelmingly positive response of our respondents. Only a tiny percent felt that sports should not be forced on children or parents.

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There are two factors that have been instrumental in this change of perception. The recent international achievements of our various sportspersons and the rising success of the different sports leagues.

With this sports culture slowly building up, the time is just right to plug the gaps and ensure its continuity. The major onus for this however lies on the government

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On Piplsay’s question about factors that can help strengthen the sports culture, increased focus on non-cricket sports turned out to be the most important one. While initiatives like Hockey, Badminton, Kabaddi, Football leagues are putting the spotlight back on these sports, a lot needs to be done for the others that are still hiding in the shadows.

Providing more opportunities in rural areas seemed to be another important factor

There is no denying the fact that rural India is a goldmine of talent. A huge percentage of our sporting talent comes from these areas including big names like Mary Kom, Baichung Bhutia, Dutee Chand etc

Though the government has a talent search programme in place, it needs to go beyond that to spot and nurture new talents. For example, over 8 out of 10 people surveyed by Piplsay want the government to open more training centers in the country

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At present, there are only 56 government training centers training about 6000 athletes across 26 disciplines. This number is grossly disproportionate to the size and population of the country. Long distances are often a hurdle for youngsters living in far-flung areas. Girls, in particular, are at a disadvantage.

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A huge percentage of people also feel that corporates and private coaching institutes should actively contribute towards making sports popular in government schools. One of the ways suggested was through the promotion of local sports clubs

Manipur, for example, has over 1000 local clubs started and run by local communities and volunteers. These clubs support a range of sports disciples and provide a strong foundation for budding sport persons. No wonder then that the state has produced 18 Arjuna Awardees besides other star players

While a few corporates and private centers are already doing their bit, a greater coordination btw them and the government can go a long way in cementing the sporting culture at the right time.

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The times, they are a changing…

Despite the many challenges plaguing sports in the country, there is a growing attitudinal shift as revealed in  the Piplsay survey

Indians are taking sports seriously, building an environment that will help establish a sporting culture. The government, on the other hand, is also trying to bolster this change. The ‘Khelo India’ initiative is its first step.

With this rare synergy in place, the time is just right to bring sports to the center stage

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