New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the Sports Ministry has decided to provide access to four of its sporting infrastructure, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Karni Singh Shooting range, free of cost to federations and athletes from November 1.
The decision was made in an effort to promote the Fit India Movement and to make playfields and sporting infrastructure accessible to all sports persons across the country, the ministry said in a statement.
The first phase will see stadiums in the capital, including Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (JLN), Indira Gandhi Stadium (IG), Major Dhyanchand National Stadium and Karni Singh Shooting Range being opened for state and national federations to host competitions, tournaments and leagues of all sporting disciplines.
Each stadium has been earmarked for a specific sport. JLN will host football leagues, training and competitions organised by federations, while IG stadium will be earmarked for wrestling, boxing, judo and badminton. Shooting competitions will be hosted at KSSR and hockey and swimming at National Stadium.
Talking about the move, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the government is trying its best to provide aspiring athletes with enough playfields to children and those interested in fitness and sports.
"The Ministry has at its disposal some of the best sporting infrastructure of the country, and needs to be utilised for the benefit of promoting the sporting culture and ecosystem in the country," Rijiju said.
"The intention of the ministry is to increase use of existing sports infrastructure by 3 times in the next 3 months. I am sure this step will not only promote fitness, but will also prompt more youngsters to compete in sport and help us identify more talent for the country," he added.
However according to a ministry source, the electricity charges will have to be borne by the federations as per usage.
"But in case the competition is of national level, Sports Authority of India may bear that cost on case-to-case basis," the source said.
The new policy will also allow non-SAI coaches to train their athletes at the stadia without any charge, provided that the coach has a minimum of at least 10 wards under his or her tutelage.
Training sessions can be booked by a coach online from November 1 and the coach can charge a reasonable training fee from his or her trainees.
Youngsters, who aren't training for any sport professionally, will also have access to these stadia and can play a game of their choice by advance online booking against available slots.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Hockey India have already charted out a roadmap for conducting a number of leagues and competitions in the next three months, the statement said.
The first league in the calendar is the Khelo India Golden League, underway at JLN, which will see football being played by U-7, U-9 and U-11 boys and girls.
"This step taken by the Sports Ministry will help popularise the game of football in the Delhi-NCR region in a big way. We are starting with the Khelo India Golden League, and will soon be hosting the Khelo India Group A and Group B division leagues for clubs in Delhi," said Shaji Prabhakaran, President, Football Delhi .
"We would further initiate a holistic coaching programme for children in the age group of five years and above at JLN in which, over the next three months, we expect more than 400 youngsters to participate," he added.