Pune: While standing at traffic signals or walking on the road, you never know, you might have spotted a budding Olympic champion at some corner of a street! The Maharashtra Sports Department is scouting for street children who perform acrobats, gymnasts on the roads for their livelihood and are planning to give them an opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games.
State Sports Commissioner Om Prakash Bakoria, in his tweet, has requested the netizens to help the department identify such children and provide information regarding the same.
While speaking with Sakal Times, Bakoria said, “These children will be trained at our sports academics and we will prepare them for Olympics 2028 and 2032.”
“We have often seen these children perform amazing stunts on the ropes, bamboo sticks using different props. I believe they can become good gymnasts. Hence, to recognise and acknowledge such talent across the State, we have decided to identify these children and enroll them at our sports academy,” Bakoria added.
Bakoria said, “Our target age group and categories are under 8-year-old, 10-year-old and 12-year-old. We will try to get them through 2020 and 2024 Olympics, however, as of now we are focusing on 2028 and 2032.”
These children would be provided with hostel and education facilities as well.
“Firstly, these children are migrants and they are always moving from one place to another. This programme will provide them with a stable livelihood. Secondly, I have observed that these children are very flexible and hence can become good gymnasts. The only thing is we have to nurture them and we have many talented coaches at our academics for this,” he said.
Currently, the sports academy does not have any programmes for underprivileged or tribal children and this would be the first-of-its-kind initiative undertaken by the Sports Department, Bakoria added.