With a motive to rejuvenate sports and give a platform to unrecognized talent in our country, Khelo India School Games were conducted for the first time from 31st Jan to 8th Feb 2018 in Delhi. Like the many schemes which have proved futile in the past and could not get through their motives, this new approach did not fall prey to politics and crossed all hurdles to come up with its second edition with a new name, Khelo India Youth Games 2019. The second edition started on 9th January 2019 in Pune with the participation of approx. Ten thousand athletes as compared to 5500 participants last year.
Karnataka ended the first edition with the fourth position. It can be considered as a top-class performance from one of the big sporting states from the southern part of India as the event was a national-level event witnessing athlete from all the 29 states and 7 Union territories. But if we compare the number of medals won by top five states in the medal tally, the actual picture of the event will come out. Haryana, Maharashtra, and Delhi were the top three states with 102, 111 and 94 medals respectively. While Karnataka was at fourth position with 44 medals surpassing the below ranked Uttar Pradesh with 62 medals only because of more number of Gold Medals (16 Golds).
Now, the next big question that comes to our mind is if what is lacking in a state like Karnataka which has given sports athletes like Ashwini Nachappa, Reeth Abraham, RM Shankara and many more in the past. Some of these were even from a poor background, and they still found a way to make to the big stage with inadequate resources in their times. But with the change in government’s perspective towards sports in the last few years, Karnataka is still struggling to reach the top level.
One of the problems for this failure is the lack of sports facilities at the rural level. Under Khelo India 2016 initiative, the government is focusing on improving sports facilities at the rural level so that deserving athletes get all the necessary facilities to perform at the national and international level. An amount of Rs. 1.6 crores were also allotted to each district to have indoor and outdoor sports complexes in the district.
However, Indi, a taluk in Bijapur District, famous for players like Rajesh Pawar (a Paralympian) does not have athlete tracks and other sports courts in the only sports stadium despite its inauguration in 2015. The stadium was built under Karnataka government’s State Sports Policy 2015 and was supposed to have two Kabaddi grounds, two wrestling grounds, two Kho-Kho courts, one Athletics track, two Volleyball courts and an indoor stadium for Badminton and Swimming as per the guidelines. Instead, sitting Member of Legislative Assembly, Mr. Y.V.Patil, who is also a member of the District Sports Welfare Committee made a helipad for himself on the stadium’s land.
Also, as per the Karnataka State Sports Policy 2018, each taluk and town municipality should at least have one active and well – endowed community sports center along with coaching staff for the players. Sports Authority of Karnataka came up with a sports policy in 2015 but had to change to because of its failure. Now the current Sports Policy focuses on achieving its goals by 2030. But, with the current progress of the initiatives taken until now, the government need to take appropriate actions to monitor the implementation of policies.