April 27, 2016

Indian Speed Star Initiative by GAIL

Image Source:- http://www.gailindianspeedstar.org
In India, athletics always lacked attention. Games are a priority and among games too, Cricket takes the major attention. Athletics take the most neglected position in Indian society. And that's why in world sports arena, we don't manage to get good number of medals. We need to think why do we have this situation in our country. Is it because of the neglect of Govt, or is it because of the lack of "a culture of Sports" in our nation. In many rural areas, we have this old Hindi saying- "padhoge-likhoge banoge nawaab. kheloge-kudoge banoge kharab" (English transalation:- "If you study, you will become a great man. If you play too much, you will turn into a spoilt man"). Well, this may not hold relevant in today's times, but it tells a lot about the society's thinking. So we really need to think over this, as to why our society places so much emphasis on study and looks down upon sports and athletics as things which spoil future.

Thankfully, times are slowly changing, and more and more people are taking to sports. In fact, more and more organisations are sponsoring rather unconventional sports in the country. An example is the "pro-kabbadi" league being organized by corporates. Who would have thought there would be a National level kabaddi tournament organized by private sponsors, and organised with so much fanfare!! Same is with the Indian Super League for Football. So things are slowly changing.

It is in this regard that there seems to be another noble initiative, and thankfully so, in the area of athletics. GAIL - Gas Authority of India Ltd. has started a very nice grassroot level initiative for athletics.  It is named "Indian Speed Star", to find out the fastest runners in 100,200 and 800 mtrs track events. They have teamed up with National Yuva Cooperative Society which has further tied up with Anglian Medal Hunt Company as its Technical Partner for The GAIL Indian Speedstar project. The programme is mainly targetted to find talented children beween 11-17 yrs old, and then train them for 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
A panel of eminent sportspersons like P.T Usha, Rachita Mistry, AnuradhaBiswal& Kavita Raut have been appointed in the selection committee to support selections and guide coaching camps. As members of the selection committee their role would include creating the selection criteria or the GAIL-Indian Speedstar program, and developing the training plan and module for the selected athletes at the National Level.
District trials were conducted under the watchful eyes of coaches and selectors, appointed by the selection committee. The selection of the athletes was based on talent identification and selection criteria set by the selection committee.
Initiatory, in its first year, earlier this year with initial trials conducted at 55 districts across 10 states in which more than 25,000 children participated out of which 850 children made it to the State level.

Camp and Selection. The first State level camp and trial was organized on 27-28th of February in SawaiMaan Singh Stadium, Jaipur where 60 boys and girls participated out of which 4 have qualified for the next level. The state trials were held in Odisha (14 Selection), Delhi (28 Selection), Kerala (28 Selection) & Jharkhand(4 Selection)followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat in the last week  of April. The shortlisted children from the State trials will then participate in the National camp and selection which is scheduled to be held in May 2016 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Shortlisted athletes from state trials will attend an intensive national level camp. At the conclusion of the coaching camp, final trials will be held.

This seems to be a really nice initiative by GAIL and I am sure many talented children of our country will get benefited by it. More details about this noble initiative can be found at the website- http://www.gailindianspeedstar.org/Let's also hope that more and more organisations come forward to sponsor and support such initiatives focused on athletics and other neglected sports.

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