New Delhi: Former and current sportspersons on Tuesday welcomed the government's National Sports Bill which provides for a "fair and transparent" election process and limitation to age and tenure for their office-bearers, saying the proposed measures were long overdue.
Welcoming the draft bill, put up in the sports ministry website, former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh hoped that the new measures take sport in the country to a new era.
"I have not read entire provisions in the bill. But as can be read from what have been in the media, I wholeheartedly welcome the measures. The country now needs a new direction in sports and I hope the initiative by the sports ministry would lead to a new era in sports in the country," Pargat told PTI.
Pargat welcomed the age and tenure limitation provisions in the bill, saying that they should put an end to the long reigns of some of heads of National Sports Federations.
"I am happy about that. We need to change administration of the NSFs. So many heads (of NSFs) are there for so long," said the former national hockey team centre-back.
Asked about the participation of former and current athletes in the decision making process of the NSFs, Pargat said, "That is good but the athletes themselves will also have to be clean and the process transparent."
Former sprinter and Clean Sports India vice-president, Ashwini Nachappa, said the measures in the bill were long overdue.
"The measures in the bill, which I can understand from what have been already in the public domain, are long overdue.
India now needs to clean up sports and we completely support any move to bring transparency in the functioning of NSFs and the IOA," she said.
"I think the heads and top officials of some sports bodies have remained far too long in their positions, doing their own work and nothing for sports and country. It is high time that the changes are brought in and they are removed. So, we in Clean Sports India support the measures totally," said the Olympian.
She said Clean Sports India would send its views and suggestions to the sports ministry which on Tuesday sought a debate on the draft bill.
Legendary athlete PT Usha though said she would first see the entire draft bill before commenting on it.
"I will read what are there in the draft bill and then only will be able to comment," she said when contacted.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist discus thrower Krishna Poonia also welcomed the measures, especially participation of athletes in decision-making process and guidelines to prevent sexual harassment of women sportspersons.
"I welcomed the new initiatives of the sports ministry. A clean and transparent administration is always welcomed. These should help India move ahead in sports at the international arena," she said.
"I am particularly happy for the participation of athletes in the decision-making process and rules against sexual harassment. The athletes should be looked after well," said Poonia, the only track and field athlete to have won an individual gold medal in Commonwealth Games.
Hockey Olympian Viren Rasquinha also supported the new sports minister's initiative, saying the bill would go a long way in taking Indian sports forward.
"I totally support the new initiative. I hope these measures take Indian sports forward," he said.