“पढ़ोगे लिखोगे तो बनोगे नवाब, खेलोगे कूदोगे तो बनोगे लाजवाब!”
On the occasion of National Sports Day, I take pride in writing how there is a sports revolution underway in New India and how it is changing our perspective towards sports.
“It is not my country’s duty to push me ahead, it is my duty to push my country ahead,” the words of Major Dhyan Chand reverberate the principle tenets behind ‘Sewa Parmo Dharma.’ The Hockey Wizard, a man of high patriotism who demonstrated unprecedented determination, is a true inspiration for today’s leaders in not just sports but every arena.
A great player and coach, almost all Men’s Hockey Olympic triumphs from 1928 – 1964 are attributed to him. With a whopping 570 goals from 185 matches in his name, his passion for sports and values for sportsmanship are reflected in his demeanour as he upheld that the game demands the best from us, both as a person and player. Such was the modesty that in his autobiography ‘Goal’ he talks about how he is just an ordinary man, a soldier first, who chose to pursue a profession where he could avoid the limelight.
Renaming India’s highest sporting honour ‘Khel Ratna Award’ after one of the most outstanding sportspersons who brought glory and accolades to the nation is indeed a befitting tribute. It is good to know that attitude is changing under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji’s regime, unlike under the UPA, where corruption prevailed, sponsored money, equipment, and kits couldn’t reach the players, no direct efforts were made to propagate the sports environment and motivate players. The rightful are gaining what they deserved since long back, and today’s generation is getting an opportunity to know and learn about such a legend!
Times have indeed changed now. New India’s spending on sports other than Cricket is rising steadily since a few years. India is amidst a sports revolution- a revolution that will contribute to the country’s GDP and bring a plethora of new opportunities. An essential component of socio-economic development, sports enhance social harmony and cohesiveness. Spirit of sporting strength fosters entrepreneurship and innovation, imbibes life skills and virtues, which is all the more critical in a country like ours with one of the youngest populations in the world. Our government has done a lot to empower our youths in the sports industry, help shed local stigmas, increase participation, and provide all the tools to reach their potential.
There is no lack of raw talent in India, we can excel in many fields, but it takes years to develop skills and hone that talent while also keeping a positive temperament throughout the matches. The match in which Major Dhyan Chand earned the name ‘the wizard,’ the finals of the Punjab infantry tournament in Jhelum, he scored three goals in mere four minutes and led his side to victory. We can learn a lot from him; keeping calm under pressure and believing in oneself can turn the tables. Sports psychology is a rapidly growing field to help build the right environment and mindset for performance enhancement. Sports are all about emotions! Support, motivation, and passion towards the glory of sports is what drives it.
Khelo India’s main aim is to ensure that schools create a supportive environment for identifying and nurturing potential players at a young age in providing infrastructure. Still, society must come together to appreciate and support them. Parents should encourage their children to opt for a career in sports instead of not finding it as esteemed. We need to understand that home is where it all starts. Home is the first school, and parents are the first teachers. Home is the setting for an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, and no amount of infrastructure or policies can change that. A change in parental attitude is the paramount need to promulgate this revolution. There is an immediate need to shift our attitude towards “Padho likhoge toh banoge nawab, Kheloge kudoge toh banoge lajawab!”.
We did not always lack a sports culture, but we have developed lax towards it in modern times. How many of us know that Badminton, Chess, Polo originated in India, besides our good old Kabbadi, Kho-Kho, and other regional sports? Broadcasted abroad from here, they underwent further modernization and became world-famous but us not giving them enough recognition in our own backgrounds demonstrates our dereliction and ineptitude. This change can only be brought when we talk about it, create exciting atmospheres around it, participate in local tournaments, bring that loud Indian vigour and energy! The spirit of our society must be thrilled and energized through inspiring interactions with medal winners and champions. Our men’s and women’s Hockey teams said the Prime Minister’s phone calls following their matches in Tokyo were instrumental in boosting their morale. PM’s personal wishes, tweets, and lively interaction that took place at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg after the Olympics with all the players, not just winners, was something to be seen for the very first time in this country; an admirable step in the right direction to promote sports culture.
India is home to a variety of different traditions, cultures, food, language, and home environments. A tailored approach to fit the needs of the local areas to generate more interest, curiosity and increase participation is the need of the hour. Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government has adopted wrestling and streamlined an investment of Rs. 170 crore in infrastructure and support to the wrestlers till the 2032 Olympics.
While watching a rare interview of Major Dhyan Chand from Prasar Bharti Archives, it made me realize how backward we were technologically back then where Major Dhyan Chand pointed out how foreign teams and coaches used to take pictures of Indian hockey players and analyze them to improve their own game. In today’s era, the field has become more scientific. Technology affects how athletes train and compete, how fans interact and view content, and how world-class facilities are built. Today, there are around 680 sports tech start-ups in India that are trying to fill in the gap of the past.
Under our energised leadership, history is being created in New India, bringing all communities together to create continuous growth and legacy. Let’s come together to create a synergized sports culture!