KSR Column: Amid Slips Of Tongue, Are We Slipping In Sports?

Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu felicitating PV Sindhu after her Olympic victory. Also seen is coach Pullela Gopichand. (file picture)  - Sakshi Post

By Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is on record stating that he will give a Nobel Prize if any sportperson from Andhra Pradesh wins an Olympic medal.

Though who will give the Nobel Prize is another question, the growing list of tongue slips by the chief minister is alarming. While speaking in the state assembly, he said Andhra Pradesh is first in corruption and development. The statement created a furore among both the ruling TDP and opposition benches. At an interaction with voters, Chandrababu Naidu said that he can afford to pay Rs 5,000 for each vote. Again, it is not clear if these are instances of tongue-slips by the chief minister or if age is catching up with him.

Chandrababu Naidu felicitating shuttler Kidambi Srikanth.

Therefore, lets focus on the issue of sports itself where the chief minister is enthusiastically competing with neighbouring Telangana in honouring the sportspersons. The state of sports in Andhra Pradesh state is very pathetic. We cannot blame the chief minister alone for it. In the present times, education means learning by rote and getting top ranks in Eamcet. Sports definitely takes a back seat. Needless to say, the all-round development of the student is never a priority for the parents and the educational institutes.

This applies to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and we dare say to the entire country. True, land was allocated to coach Pullela Gopichand in Hyderabad to groom budding talent. That is appreciable, but the students who are getting trained there are only from the upper crust of the society. For students from the middle and lower income groups, sports training remains a pipe dream.

The AP government promised sports stadiums in all 175 assembly constituencies. Three years down the line, the less said about it the better. Funds were sanctioned and work began for a stadium spread over nine acres in Vijayawada (west). But as on date, there is no word from the administration about the progress of works at that site.

The state of affairs has reached such a stage that sports is defined by cricket and badminton alone. This belief is well-entrenched among politicians and the people to such an extent that any medal in these two disciplines and there is a stampede to honour the sportperson. Sure, the victorious sportsman or woman must be honoured with cash and gifts. But sports experts say that there should be a policy and procedure on how to honour them and to what extent. Remember, all the cash and land rewards given to them is public money and therefore cannot be spent as per the whims and fancies of political leaders in both the states.

Many schools do not have physical training (PT) classes and the colleges do not have playgrounds. So, a teacher for physical training is a long shot. Therefore a sports policy is needed to identify young talent and interest among the students. Then, they can be selected for special training at the mandal and state-level. Also, sports infrastructure and equipment must be given to those selected students to excel. The credit for any talent that blooms this way can be rightly claimed by the government of the day and will bring laurels to the state. True, gems like Sindhu, Srikanth and Gopichand must be appreciated but honouring sportspersons only to compete with neighbouring states is purely political in nature and not done out of a commitment to sports.

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