New Delhi: Outgoing National Chief Athletics coach Bahadur Singh has appealed to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and administrators to ensure that every school in the country has space for children to play. The 74-year-old said that India has the potential to become a powerhouse in sports if it ensures that the country's children have ample space to play sports.
"If there is a playground in schools everywhere then there will be lots of PT Usha and Hima Das," said Singh in a virtual farewell arranged for him by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). Rijiju was present in the video conference alongwith a number of big names of Indian sports administration, including former sportspersons like PT Usha and Anju Bobby George.
"But unfortunately, our schools have no place to play. India has a lot of talent, no doubt. India can be a world power in athletics but for that we have to make space for kids to play in schools.
"In schools in China, there is three hours continuous physical activity. They also give food in the school. That's the importance that country and many others are giving to their children. But sir, we are not giving our children importance. In lakhs of schools in our country, there are no playing fields."
Singh also said that the country needs more indoor facilities which might help athletes to avoid travelling overseas for training when conditions in India are not suitable.
"We spend a lot of money in sending our athletes overseas when the climate at home does not permit training. India badly needs an indoor facility," he said.
Singh said that the rise of India in sports this far is a credit to the "teamwork" of various stakeholders in the field and not his achievement alone.
"This work has been done by all the coaches, athletes, AFI, SAI, the centre heads, ministry -- it is a teamwork they have done but everything comes on my name which is surprising," he said with a smile.