Sports Culture In India: A Growing Force And A Golden Age Ahead

New Delhi: Sports in India is believed to be several thousand years old. Several pieces of evidence from ancient times suggest that people played an early form of chess and also invented dice. The existence of seals recovered from the sites of the Indus Valley and other artifacts also proves that hunting and boxing were practised in earlier times.

It reached new heights when Buddhism came into practice. Tiruvedacharya in Villas Mani describes many fascinating games such as archery, equestrian, hammer-throwing and chariot-racing. However, India has truly begun to embrace a sports culture in recent decades.

This is due to the rise of sporting events that have been successful in capturing the imagination of the Indian public. These sporting events have helped to promote sporting culture in India in several ways.

Firstly, sports are more accessible and affordable to people of all backgrounds. Secondly, nowadays, youngsters aspire to become professional athletes by looking at their role models. Third, there is a generated excitement and enthusiasm for sports among the Indian public.

As a result, India has now become more of a sports-minded country. There is a growing interest in sports among youths, and there is a greater appreciation for the importance of physical fitness – a positive development for India.

# Other factors that have contributed to the growth of sports culture in India:  

1)  Government’s increasing investment in sports infrastructure and development programs.

2) Rise of private sports academies and training centres.

3) Increasing media coverage of sports.

4) Growing popularity of social media has made it easier for people to connect with sports fans worldwide.

# Here are some of the sporting events which have promoted sports culture in India:

1) Indian Premier League (IPL): Founded in 2008, the IPL is now one of the most popular sporting leagues in the world, with a global television audience of over 1 billion people. The IPL has helped cricket reach to the masses in India and also made it a more lucrative career option for young cricketers.

2)  Pro Kabaddi League (PKL): The PKL is a professional Kabaddi league that was founded in 2014. Left in lurch for long, the PKL commercialised the game of kabaddi in the country and gave a platform to the talents to showcase their skills to the world.

3) Indian Super League (ISL): Like IPL, the Indian Super League too changed the football landscape in the country. Although I-League existed when ISL came in 2014, the latter was instrumental in lifting the game to new standards. It also helped in unearthing new talents who went on to represent the country.

4) Premier Badminton League (PBL): Founded in 2016, the PBL is a professional badminton league and is now one of the most popular leagues in the world. It helped to popularise the game in India and has also made it a more lucrative career option for young badminton players.

5) Pro Wrestling League (PWL): The PWL is a professional wrestling league that was founded in 2015. The league is now one of the most popular wrestling leagues in India and helped to popularize the sport in India. However, 2019 was the last time it took place.

6) Commonwealth Games: India hosted the Commonwealth Games twice, in 1934 and 2010. The 2010 Commonwealth Games were the largest sporting event ever held in India with 4352 athletes representing 71 countries in 21 sporting disciplines. While Australia was the most successful cpuntry with 177 medals, India gave its best-ever performance by securing second position in the medal tally with 38 gold, 27 silver, and 36 bronze medals.

7) Asian Games: India hosted the Asian Games twice in 1951 and 1982. India won 51 medals including 15 gold, 16 silver and 20 bronze at the 1951 edition to finish second behind Japan (60 medals). It remains India’s best finish at the Continental Games.

# 1982: The 1982 edition of the Asian Games was held in New Delhi from November 19 to December 4. India had a decent outing at Asian Games in 1982 and finished fifth with 57 medals, which was the highest for the nation until 2010. China topped with 153 medals.

#Sports Authority of India (SAI)

The Sports Authority of India is the premier sports body of the country which spearheads India’s sporting ambitions and develop the environment to promote the sports culture in the country and sporting excellence.

#Sports Promotional Schemes of Sports Authority of India:

1) National Sports Talent Contest (NSTC): NSTC is a talent identification scheme that is conducted annually to identify young athletes in the age group of 8-14 years. The NSTC is conducted in two stages: the first stage is conducted at the district level and the second stage is conducted at the state level.

2) Extension Centers of STCs: Extension Centers of STCs are located in schools and colleges that have the requisite basic sports infrastructure. These centres provide training to young athletes in the age group of 10-18 years.

3) Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS): Its goal is to find, develop, and prepare future medal contenders for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Under this program, athletes and sportspeople receive specialized instruction from renowned coaches at cutting-edge sports facilities and institutions. A similar program called Junior TOPS, which targets kids as young as 10 to 12 years old and aims to create Olympic champions in 2028, was also introduced by the government in 2020.

4) SAI Training Centres (STCs): STCs are junior-level training centres that groom young athletes in the age group of 10-18 years. There are currently over 100 STCs in India, spread across all states and union territories.

5) Army Boys Sports Company Scheme (ABSC) – for Sub-Junior level trainees: This is a collaborative venture of SAI with the Indian Army. The main objective of the Scheme is to make use of the good infrastructure and disciplined environment of the Army for training boys in the age group of 8-16 years of age, to achieve excellence in sports. After attaining the required age of 17 and a half years, the trainees are also offered placement in the Army.

6) Khelo India Scheme: Khelo India is a grassroots sports development scheme that is implemented by SAI. Khelo India aims to create a sporting culture in India by providing opportunities to young athletes from all backgrounds to participate in sports.

As a result of these factors, India is now well-positioned to become a significant sports power in the world. With its large population and growing economy, India has the potential to produce world-class athletes in a variety of sports. The next few decades will be an exciting time for sports in India, as the country continues to develop its sports culture and infrastructure.