With the COVID-19 crisis creating uncertainty everywhere, the Odisha the government on Tuesday said the unprecedented situation must be used as an opportunity to adopt innovative methods and reassess priorities to revive the sports ecosystem.
This was stated by Odisha’s Sports and Youth Services Minister Tushar Kanti Behera during an interaction Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had with sports ministers and senior officials of different states and union territories through video conference, and the agenda was to plan a collaborative roadmap to further sports and youth-related activities across India.
Emphasizing the significant role that innovation, collaboration, and technology can play in reviving the sports ecosystem, Behera shared the initiatives that the Odisha government had undertaken to resume sports and, being a sports hub, the possible way forward its authorities and stakeholders to adopt.
Owing to the unprecedented Coronavirus crisis, Sports fraternities across the nation are in a constant dilemma regarding the uncertain future. However, the recent relaxation by Central Govt. The guidelines laid down by SAI have brought in some positivity for all stakeholders.
“The Sports Sector has to treat this as an opportunity to innovate, rethink policies, and reassess priorities. Best practices from across the world are being considered to chart a course ahead,” he said.
Behera said the sports sector has to treat this as an opportunity to innovate, to rethink policies and to reassess priorities and best practices from across the world are being considered to chart a course ahead.
Expressing that Odisha has stepped up to the plate and has taken initiatives to facilitate a partial but safe resumption of sporting activities, the minister said detailed SOP had been issued as per the central government’s guidelines across sports facilities in the state.
“Elite athletes have resumed training at the Kalinga Stadium, and we have planned resumption of training across Sports complex and facilities, in a phased manner,” stated Behera.
All Covid-19 protocols are being followed during coaching, including daily thermal screening and periodic sanitization of playfield/pitch and residential complexes.
For Swimming, the state is resorting to strength and conditioning training, while Sports hostel inmates benefit from webinars and personal guidance from coaches on mental and physical conditioning.
Coaches are being aligned with SAI and other educative sessions through the online medium, he said. Deliberating on the way forward for the resumption of Sports, the minister shared his views on how the state plans to reorient its strategy and strengthen the sports scenario across districts to benefit the sportspersons and the sports lovers of the state.
In the future, some aspects of sports training that can continue to happen online, and can be offered to trainees and sportspersons through different models will get integrated into the training regime.
Technology will play a key role in reducing operating costs and enhance knowledge sharing. Stating that the Sports events scenario is gradually opening up in the State, The sports minister said FIFA had announced the dates for FIFA U 17 Women’s World Cup in Feb-March 2021.
“We will work closely with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the tournament and implement strictest safety norms.”
It is important to prioritise the health of our athletes and sports staff and adhere to precautionary measures and guidelines ensuring maximum health protocols. The administration will develop comprehensive event and venue health and safety guidelines for all involved in such sports events.
This will include facilitating sanitisation by-laws, upgrading building guidelines and incorporating social distancing norms, which could be added to venue house rules and contracts, he said.
“In addition, we may have to accept closed stadia as the new normal. We foresee a transformation in sports broadcasting and consumption of sports content in the future. Technology and Content on OTT platforms will play a crucial role in engaging and entertaining the fans through digital innovation,” the Odisha minister for sports said.
“Since Sports remains a priority sector, the government will continue to develop and strengthen our Sports Infrastructure to make sports inclusive and accessible to all. Several key projects, including the development and renovation of pitches for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, have resumed, the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 is ahead and our work towards it has commenced,” he added.
The government will also come up with the final facilities for some of our High-Performance Centres.
“We are also renovating our sports hostel and restructuring disciplines across them. We continue to evaluate the on-ground situation and are trying to generate awareness on the importance of integrating education and sports in addition to capacity building and skill development of physical education teachers,” stated Behera.
The unique model adopted by Odisha to setup High-Performance Centres could become a strong solution for the future with more support of public and private sector bodies which can be adapted for grassroots and indigenous sports development too.
The government also building a set of webinars in tandem with the HPCs to spread the HPC philosophy across all ecosystem stakeholders, and in the process, carrying out a consolidation exercise and establishing a strong channel of communication from grassroots to elite.
“The way ahead is unclear and it is going to be the administrators, policy makers, sports federations and other stakeholders who have to deliberate, step up and take a lead to usher in a new era in Sports,” He concluded.
Earlier, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports KirenRijiju interacted with sports ministers and senior officials of 18 States and Union Territories.
“We had a very good enriching video conference with the states sports ministers, some of the ministers and officers have made very valuable suggestions, they have also briefed me about their preparations post-COVID to have sporting events,” Rijiju said after day one of the video conference.
“We are having two days conference with state sports ministers, today was the first day, we had 18 states and UTs today as a part of the conference. We will come up with a solution after this two-day conference,” he added.
During his interaction with state sports ministers, Rijiju also called upon states to create awareness about Atmanirbhar Bharat.
“The NYKS and NSS volunteers have done a commendable job working alongside civil administration during COVID-19. There are currently 75 lakh volunteers and we have decided to take that number up to 1 crore in Unlock 2.0. Prime Minister has already announced Atmanirbhar Bharat. As the country opens up, our volunteers will create awareness among all sections of society such as farmers, small business owners, and others, regarding the direct benefits that they can get through being self-reliant,” Rijiju said.
“I call upon the States to promote volunteers and support them to work better. They will be working directly with the district administration with minimal intervention of the Centre,” he added.
The minister further stated that the participation of states in activities related to the Fit India Movement has been encouraging, with more than 2.5 lakh schools across India enrolling to become Fit India Schools.
“I request all State and UT Governments to take an active part in including all schools in their States and UTs to register as Fit India schools so that fitness becomes a way of life for youngsters,” Rijiju said.
On the first day, representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, participated. The other States/UTs will be at the conference on July 15.
Earlier it was announced that Rijiju will meet ministers in charge of the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports from all States and Union Territories in a two-day video conference on July 14 and 15.
The aim of the two-day video conference is to chart out the roadmap for grassroots-level sports development as well as the activities of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and National Service Scheme (NSS), across the country.
The agenda of the meeting includes a review of the action taken during COVID-19, as well as discussions on restarting sporting activities at the state-level and identification of budding sports talent through competitions at block and district levels in states and UTs.
Inclusion of fitness and sports as part of the curriculum in all schools across the country will also be discussed. Plans to conduct Khelo India events and Youth Festivals later this year or early next year will be decided.
Rijiju had stressed that it is ‘crucial’ to strengthen the sports ecosystem at the grassroots level if we want to make it to the Top 10 countries at the Olympic podium in 2028. He had also said that Sports Ministry has decided to set up Khelo India State Center of Excellence (KISCE) in all states and UTs.
Article Written By Sobhan Garnaik
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