Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, on Saturday, rued that people in India, including some of his colleagues in Parliament, have limited understanding of sports and emphasized on the need to create a sports culture in the country.
He was amazed that colleagues who work with him thought that Jyoti Kumari, Kambala jockey Srinivas Gowda, and Rameshwar Gurjar — who became social media sensation — were Olympic prospects.
Jyoti Kumari gripped the eyeball after she cycled from Gurugram to Bihar, carrying her ill father during the pandemic time and Karnataka’s Kambala racer Gowda was claimed to run 100 m in about 11 seconds.
The minute this news broke, all the people in the country felt that these prospects were good to compete at the Olympics level which clearly indicates that they have very little knowledge about sports barring Cricket.
“Knowledge in Indian society about sports is very minimum. I don’t want to degrade my own colleagues but even in Parliament there is no knowledge,” Rijiju said during the online launch of the High-Performance leadership program organized by ELMS Sports Foundation and Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
“Everybody knows about cricket, the English people have put that in our mind. They play the game and we had to beat them. But other than that, there is no knowledge, all just want a gold medal.” Sports Minister added.
Taking about Kumari, she was offered a trial by Cycling Federation of India(CFI) but she turned down the offer.
Talking about Kumari, Rijiju said: “There was this young girl who under very difficult circumstances during this COVID-19 pandemic carried her father on a cycle from Gurgaon to Bihar. It was a tragic thing but imagine some of my colleagues said she will bring a gold medal for India in cycling.”
“See how lack of knowledge makes people think like this, without knowing what are the formats of cycling and what standards you have to reach to win a gold medal in Olympics, just pouring of information will not do.”
He also stressed the lack of sporting culture in the country, saying that the sporting atmosphere has to change so that Indian athletes can bring more gold medals in the Olympics.
“What was bothering me all these years is why we are not able to create a sports culture in India. Abhinav Bindra got the gold in Beijing. In Moscow, our Indian men’s hockey team won a gold medal. It generates celebration but there is no collective effort to have more such momentous occasions,” he said.
“We have to change the entire atmosphere in the country to ensure that such moments come more often. We can’t afford to have just one or two icons, to be celebrating one or two medals.”