Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar feels that engagement at the grassroots is a must to develop India into a ‘Sporting Powerhouse’.
“For any country to become a sporting power, it is very important to have a sporting culture. In India, while we love watching sports, we don’t really love playing sports that much. So, that transformation is very important and it has to start from the grassroots,” Tendulkar said at the inaugural edition of the Apollo Tyres Sports Conclave.
The batting great said that sports should be made compulsory at the school level and children should be allowed to play whatever they like.
“This will also enable experts to identify talent at an early stage. At the end of the day, we are essentially looking at building a fitter and healthier India that can perform well in everything.”
The former India captain emphasised that once a child has been identified, the next steps are to ensure a good sporting infrastructure, proper guidance, training camps, among others.
“If the child loves what he plays and wants to pursue it, he could very well be the next Neeraj Chopra, who is the reigning Olympic champion in the javelin throw. Our athletes need to be celebrated, and I am not talking only about the ones who won medals. Everyone who represented India needs to be celebrated. The more you interact with these athletes, the more the younger generation will be inspired to become like them, and it will create a cycle of producing sportsmen,” Tendulkar added.
The cricketing great said that even though India was on the right path, a lot needs to be done to turn the country into a ‘Sports Power’.
Echoing similar thoughts and sentiments, Neeraj Kanwar, vice-chairman and managing director, Apollo Tyres Ltd, said that like engineering and medical colleges in the country, “we need public-private partnerships between corporate entities and the government to set up high-quality sports institutions”.
“The education system has to allow children to become more sports-oriented. As private corporates, we need to collaborate with the government to make inroads into the rural markets that have a great pool of sporting talent. India has a huge potential, but we must channel our resources in the right direction.”