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My colleague in the council of ministers Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Shri Anil BaijalJi, Rahul BhatnagarJi, Shri Narendra BatraJi, Sushil Kumar Ji, all the players who bring laurels for the country in the world and their trainers and all those my young friends who have come from different corners of the world and have been completely dedicated with all their might to bring laurels for the country in future, I cordially welcome all of you.

Today, emerging players from every corner of the country for Under Seventeen are amongst us. Khelo India is not a program, but it’s a mission. How sports can acquire priority in the lives of common people of India? Parents should also realize the importance of sports in the careers of their children. How can this feeling that sport is also an important aspect for the development of life be strengthened in our school systems, in our educational eco system? If priority is to be given to five-seven things then sports should also be a part of that priority list.

Today, instead of this approach that we should save some time after completing every work and then play a little bit, how can we move ahead of this thinking with the resolve that: ‘let’s play and blossom’? Those players who have brought laurels for India and are present here, it’s not that they have become sportspersons without any effort. Somebody recognized their talent and someone had tried to groom them. Parents would have tried to stop them during the initial stages, even these players would have been told this thing in the schools that: you people are so good in your studies why are you wasting your time in sports? There would have been a lot of such obstacles. But there must have been someone who would have taken them forward by holding their hands, who would have groomed them for their goals and then those sportspersons would have fully dedicated themselves for sports.

Today, there is no dearth of talent in India. A country with a population of 1.25 billion people where 65% youth are below the age of 35, can’t India make its mark in the field of sports? We say that India should make a lot of progress. Progress of India doesn’t mean that India will progress onlywhen its military might goes up or India progresses only when it becomes an economic super power. It’s not like that. India will only reach to the top of the world when we progress in every sphere of life, if Nobel prizes are given then India should be all over the place, if Oscar awards are announced then India should be all over the place, when the world discusses about scientists then India should be all over the place and when sports is discussed then India should be all over the place.

If we move forward to take India to top of the world in every sphere of life then it will certainly happen, if it does not happen today then it will certainly happen tomorrow. And I’m able to say this thing with self-confidence because I have full faith in the talent of the country, and have full faith in the young generation of the country.

Khelo India program – as I have said that it’s not only limited to this thing that there will be a competition and the winners will get the medals. An effort has been startedwith a scientific approach, with a holistic approach and with a comprehensive strategy at the grass root level by keeping every single thing into account be it development of infrastructure or be it an issue of coaching or training or be it an issue of building of human resources so that the rules of sports reach the ground level in an even manner, so that the correct information about the play grounds is available with the last man.

The most important thing istalent hunt: searching talent in every single corner of the country. And this talent can’t be searched through an online exam. In case of sports it does not work like that who gives the best answer. The talent in the field of sports only emerges in the playground.It only flourishes in the playground. And therefore games should be played in schools on regular basis and its records should be maintained there and talent should be identified while maintaining the records. And the talented ones will receive help in true sense of the word and if they receive good training then I’m confident that the youth of my country will never turn his/her back no matter how much hard work and struggle is required and he/she will give the result in any case.

And that is why the government has taken one important decision following the talent hunt. One thousand children will be selected throughout the country in separate sports. Those who are high-spirited, capable and have inherent qualities, those who have the required stamina and qualities for sports, those who have cleared all the tests then each of such 1,000 children will receive an assistance of Rs. 5 lakh per year.

Every year one thousand children will be selected and within five years we will have 5,000 such children who will have these inherent qualities. Training facility for their progress will be made available, they should get the best of the best coaching in the world, they should get the opportunity to go to the place anywhere in the world where they will receive the best of the best training. And their parents who sometimes feel like holding back due to monetary reasons and these days experience suggests that children from villages are coming forward, children from tier-II cities are coming forward. And if their families don’t have resources then one gem of India will not be stuck there. And that is why this facility of five lakh rupees will also ensure his/her family’s support for them. What kind of nutritional requirement they have? What should be done for maintaining their mental sense? Work will be done in all such directions to provide training for all these things.

Another important change that we have brought about:these days when sportspersons come back after winning accolades for the country then an healthy environment is being created in the states. States announce several prizes, members of society also announce several prizes, but only those coaches were recognised who used to be with the players during the last moment. This must be done in any case.

However, the coach who had identified the player when he/she was just a kid; the coach who groomed the player during the first four-five years; these sportspersons must have been trained by several coaches afterwards but the first coach who had initiated the player in this field and that is why we have decided that those players who bring laurels for the country and whatever awards are announced for them and whatever awards are being decided for their coaches and now therefore all those coaches and trainers who had contributed during the entire career of the sportsperson would also be entitled for the awards.

It’s a big thing. And that is why those people who are dedicated to sports they don’t do it for money and fame, they have an internal commitment. Even you would have noticed that when international sports are organized and when Indian players participate in them then they struggle very hard, they give their best. However, the moment they hold the tricolor in their hands after winning the competition then their entire body language changes.All the fatigue just disappears. If they were hurt, even if it was a bloody injury even then they forget everything. They run like anything while holding the tricolor in their hands.When a sportsperson runs anywhere in the world by holding the tricolor in his/her hand then they fill the entire India with energy, with a new spirit.

And once we establish this tradition and sport is not a new thing for India. If anyone of you had the opportunity to study the civilization ofMohanjeDaroand those traditions: the thousands of years old system of living; Dholavira in Gujarat, archeologists have found that five thousand year old site. And when I visited the site for the first time then the guides of the site told me that five thousand years ago there was a massive sports stadium in Dholavira for accommodating thousands of people and even today its ruins can be seen there.

I mean to say that the tradition of sports is not new for India. We will have to establish ourselves in this world of sports with a modern eco system, with modern rules and with the latest resources in the global context once again.

Today’s opportunity of ‘Khelo India’, all those kids from every corner of the country who are present here under this ‘Under Seventeen’, and sports, this spirit of sportsmanship develops automatically. All those who have come here will go back after getting the feeling of Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat. They will go back by internalizing the diversity of India. We may not know the language but the scent, the sense of belongingness will give us a new energy, a new strength.

With this feeling alone I convey my best wishes to all of you sportspersons. When the games will get over on 8 February, when you will return to your places then you will go back after learning a lot of new things.You will go back after making a lot of new friends and after having the opportunity to experience the one India in this stadium. You will go back by acquiring this natural tendency: how to conduct yourself in a group.

I convey my best wishes to all those children, and also to their coaches and parents whose parents encouraged them to come forward in the field of sports. And therefore with these wishes I announce the opening of the firstKhelo India School Games.

Thank you.

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