In an unprecedented bid to uplift the status of sports in India, the Union Cabinet last week granted its approval on an ordinance which aims at setting up the country’s first national sports university in Manipur. And now, India's first national sports university to be set up in Imphal after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the National Sports University Ordinance.
The bill proposing the foundation of the Sports University was introduced in the Parliament on August 2017. In a Press Conference, Cabinet decisions, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured that procedure would be expedited once the President signs the ordinance.
The proposed bill states, "a void exists in the sports environment of the country in various areas such as sports science, sports technology, high-performance training." Here the university aims to bridge this gap.
The proposed university will be spread over 325 acres in Imphal West district and cost Rs 524 crore. The minister also stated that the Manipur government has already allocated land.
The recommendation to set up the national sports university in Manipur was initially announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Rs 100 crore funds for it were allocated in the 2014-15 budget. It was announced that the government would set up national-level Sports Academies for the significant games in different parts of the countries.
Along with the Sports University, the Government proposed the foundation of international-level training facilities for accomplished athletes at junior and sub-junior-levels.
A decisive step for the welfare of sports and athletes
Sports has gained a renewed emphasis in India following Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was handed over the reins at the Sports Ministry. The first of its kind Khelo India School Games, which took place in February this year, has successfully incorporated a competitive sporting atmosphere across government schools in India, which could be a precursor to build our next-gen athletes. The setting up of an exclusive sports university, the first Central University in India to focus on sports education, will be a further step in the right direction to encourage more people to take up sports in India.
The university will be required to adopt the disciplines practised by some of the best sports academies abroad. Today, sports is not restricted as an extracurricular activity in school. Athletes require expertise, guidance and advice, to maximise their potential. Thus, the focus should be allocated in areas like sports science, sports nutrition, sports medicine, sports psychology, rehabilitation, strength and conditioning.
Manipur - A sporting hotspot
The smaller province of North East India is today one of the thriving centres of sports in the country. Over the years, the state which has produced 18 Arjuna Award winners, including the women’s football team coach, a star archer, two women boxers who would change the sport for India, more than half of the Under-17 football team and the key players of both the men’s and women’s senior national team.
Like music and dance, sports has become an integral part of Manipur's cultural fabric that has been embraced equally by the men and women. Whatever the sport is -- boxing, weightlifting, football almost every vicinity in the state has its own local stars excelling in each of these sports. With a population of a little more than 28 lakh, Manipur has a bustling sporting club culture. Besides, interestingly the state also gives emphasis to its indigenous sporting rituals. Sports like Oolaobi, Yubi lakpi, Mukna Kangjei, which have been a part of the state’s rustics are still pursued by athletes who aspire for Olympics berth in a sport like judo or boxing.
Besides, how can we forget the sporting characters the state has produced for generations? Be it boxers Mary Kom and Sarita Devi, footballer Bem Bem Devi and even the recent feats by our weightlifters Mirabai Chanu and Sanjhita Chanu in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are nothing short of remarkable.
The National University for sports couldn’t come at a better time and a better place as India aims to mark its presence felt across the Sporting world and this might just be the beginning.