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EXCLUSIVE: Maharashtra athletes hope better grassroots sports culture in the state

EXCLUSIVE: Maharashtra athletes hope better grassroots sports culture in the state

The Bridge Desk

Published: 28 Nov 2019 8:57 AM GMT

The expectation is gradually mounting on Maharashtra after the dramatic political story ended on 26th November. Along with the people from different segments, the sports fraternity is also waiting for some changes, new implementations which can be described as ultimate progress.

Henry Menezes, a former Indian international footballer from Mumbai, is presently the CEO of Maharastra Football Association as well as the deputy chairman of All India Football Federation's technical committee. Henry, in a conversation with The Bridge on Wednesday, said, "There are 35 districts in Maharastra. The previous government had set up sports complex named 'Krida Sankul' in each district. The district sports offices that represent state sports ministry run those sports complexes. A lot of activities on various games takes place in those Krida Sankuls. I personally feel those activities should run with little more professional approach. One of my key expectations will be that the new sports minister will look into the matter and revamp the activities being held in district sports through a professional approach." 

The previous government had already begun 'Khelo India' in Maharastra, and according to Henry, it was a splendid initiative to scout talent in all the disciplines. He added, "Various disciplines like volleyball, kabaddi, gymnastics and surely football have benefitted from Khelo India project. I hope the new sports minister will give similar importance so that this project gets the more synchronized rhythm."

The shooter from the state Anjali Bhagwat also seems hopeful on the same line. While speaking to The Bridge from her residence at Pune Anjali said, “The previous state government had initiated for the overall development of sports by organizing ‘Khelo India’ project. A lot of kids and budding talents could be spotted and they are also being groomed.” 

Henry Menezes, a former Indian international footballer from Mumbai, is presently the CEO of Maharastra Football Association

Looking forward to the new sports minister and new state government the 49-year old shooter is expecting some changes means some developments will be seen in the grassroots level. Anjali explained, “The government should take the initiative for the development of sports overall from the schools. Games are played in most of the schools here, but not so seriously. The new government should resume the development of the schools. They can assist schools in appointing coaches. The district sports offices can even help the schools in rebuilding infrastructure on behalf of the government.”

Henry Menezes seemed optimistic about the issue. Aditya Thakre, the son of new Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, is the president of Mumbai District Football Association as well as vice-president of Western India Football Association (WIFA) and this is the reason behind Henry’s optimism that new sports minister, as well as the new government, will be initiated for some additional development of the overall sports in the state. Henry explained, “The district sports offices and the district football offices which represent Maharastra Football Association run parallel. So both the association has to make an understanding which will help each other to contribute prosperity to the state’s sports overall.” 

Anjali who seems positive on the chances of medals by Indian pistol shooters in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics also felt that Aditya Thackeray's involvement in the football with creating more interest to improve the overall sports in the state. She concluded saying, “In Pune we have Balewadi Sports complex. There are many disciplines, being nurtured at the complex, including a shooting range of international standard. But the maintenance level of this complex is not up to the mark. The government should take care of it, and I feel they should look for introducing several feeder academies all over the state on various games. These feeder academies will be actually helping us to spot, groom and finally produce quality sportspersons.”

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