Union Minister of State Youth Affairs & Sports, Kiren Rijiju, on Monday inaugurated the Synthetic Athletic Track and Field and the Synthetic Football Ground at SAI Training Centre, NEHU Campus, Shillong.
Speaking on the occassion, Kiren Rijiju said he wanted to convert the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre at NEHU campus as a centre of excellence and a hub for higher altitude training for athletics.
Addressing the inauguration of the synthetic athletic track & field and the synthetic football ground at training centre, Rijiju said the new facilities will ensure that this particular centre will come out as a good centre of excellence.
“I can assure the officers from the state government…that after sometimes we will try to assess that what else can be done for this centre because I could very well see the potential of this centre and we will have a good understanding with the university people so that we can really create this particular facility as one of the centre of excellence in the country.”
“This should be known across the country that it not only has a good climate but the inherent training facilities can be created here so that we can have many more international players getting trained under this particular SAI training centre,” he said.
The minister of state also announced his decision to convert the centre as one of the finest SAI training centre which can be a hub for higher altitude training.
“This place is not very high in terms of altitude but sufficient enough to be declared as a high altitude training centre. It may be closed to 5,000 feet or may be slightly below that but this is very appropriate and this can be a permanent location because normally high altitude training centre are temporary in nature but this location is very appropriate to be a permanent centre as well as certain athletes can come here for acclimatization to be trained in the higher altitude…Many players from other centres can also come here for acclimatization say for a month or two months to get acclimatize for higher altitude training,” he said.
“We have very few high altitude centres in India…I am also planning to have few more may be in Meghalaya, may be in Arunachal Pradesh and Aizawl also having a good altitude,” he added.
Stating that he has set a very clear target by 2020 Olympics, India should be in the top 10, Rijiju said, “For that we have to give lots of emphasis on the scouting of young talents and we can see a very good contribution from the NE region.
According to him, Meghalaya and the seven other states in the North East have huge potential and can contribute 30-35 percent of the total medals for India in the Olympics.
He however said due to lack of proper training and no proper scouting of talents at a young age, the region was unable to realise its potentials.
On the other hand, the minister said that he is also trying to grant some more funds from other ministries for promoting of youth affairs and sports.
“I have granted certain amount already but I am looking forward and I have told my secretary to approve more schemes for sports from the ministry of minority affairs. From the ministry of youth affairs and sports, we are doing and we will be doing more but I want to use from the other ministries as well,” he asserted.
Rijiju also asked the North Eastern Council (NEC) to sanction money for promotion of sports and adventure.
“We have included sports in the NEC…It was not there (before) but I had insisted that it must be there because youth and sports activity is crucial for any society. So NEC also must do certain funding for creation of sports infrastructures. I will again ask the NEC director and Minister of DoNER to grant more facilities for our young generation,” he said while adding “We know and we keep talking about potentials but potential can be realized only when we do something concrete on the ground.”
Meanwhile, the minister further assured to take necessary steps to enhance the capacity of the SAI training centre.
“We are recruiting more coaches. I have changed certain norms and now we have four categories for the recruitment which include assistant coaches, senior coaches and high performance director. With that, we will be having sufficient numbers (of coaches) because if you have a lack of coaches then the centre will not improve, because trainees totally depend on the training and the training totally depends on the coaches…,” he stated.
In terms of other infrastructural supports, he assured, “We will try to ensure that whatever facilities are here it should be maintained and improved and if additional things are necessary we will do it.”
The minister said the Centre also wants to create the North East as a great sporting region as the people are very talented especially in the light body category. “We have a long vision for India’s sporting career and NE will have a very good share of contribution in our quest to make India a sporting nation,” he added.