Rijiju: Shillong can be high altitude training centre

Shillong, Jan 4: Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Monday said that Shillong can be developed as a High Altitude Training Centre.

He was inaugurating sports facilities at SAI, Training Centre, NEHU Campus here today. During his visit to the centre he inaugurated a Synthetic Athletic Track and Field and a Synthetic Football Ground.

The minister while appreciating the location for the SAI centre said, “This place is not very high in terms of altitude but sufficient enough to be declared as a high altitude training centre. This is very appropriate and this can be a permanent location. Normally high altitude training centres are temporary in nature but this location is very appropriate to be a permanent centre as well as certain athletes can come here to train at higher altitude.”

Acknowledging the high potential of the centre, the minister said, “We have very few high altitude training centres in India – One in Shilaroo near Shimla, one here in Shillong. We have some locations in South India in Ooty and towards the Nilgiri Hills Side and I am also planning to have a few more maybe in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Aizawl cause it also has an altitude.”

Hinting at the huge potential of sports in Meghalaya and the whole Northeast, the minister said that the country has seen some of the top international level of players from this region.

However he acknowledged that due to lack of proper training, the proper scouting of talent at a young age does not happen.

Rijiju said that this is the reason why the region has not been able to realize the potential.

He said that his ministry has set a very clear target that by 2028 Olympics, India should be in the Top 10.

He said that to achieve that lots of emphasis have to be given for scouting of young talents.

He was very categorical when he said that the eight States in Northeast can really contribute 25-30 percent of the total medalists in the Olympics.

The minister said that with the development of sports, allied industries will also grow and wherever the country progresses more, their progress in Sports also proportionately increases.

He hinted on his efforts to grant more funds from the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Rijiju said that he wanted to use funds from the other Ministries also and therefore Sports have been included in the NEC budget.

He said, “So NEC can also sanction money for Sports & Adventure. It was not there but I have insisted that it must be there because youth and sports activities are crucial so the NEC must do certain funding for inclusion of sports infrastructure.”

Later in the day the minister inaugurated the Assam Rifles Public School (ARPS) in Shillong as a Khelo India Sports School. At present, nine Sports Schools have been approved across the country, out of which five are managed by Defence and Para-military forces. In the North-east region, Assam Rifles Public School is the first Sports School announced under Khelo India scheme.

The Government will now bear the expenses for talented sports students of the school in terms of lodging, boarding, education expenses, competition exposure, insurance and medical, sports training and support, salary of coaches and support staff, sports equipment, and more.

The objective of a Khelo India Sports School is to integrate sports with education and in the process, develop sports in the country and improve the overall profile and outlook of athletes. This will also help in the identification and upliftment of talent from North-eastern, rural or tribal areas.

“It is a historic beginning of a journey for the Assam Rifles Public School and this Khelo India sports centre will be nurturing young boys and girls, who will in the long run bring medals from the Olympics,” Rijiju said.

The Union Minister also lauded the efforts of Lt. Gen. Sukhdeep Sangwan, Director-General, Assam Rifles, for making several positive changes in the school over the years.

“Sport has always been an integral part of this school and they will be producing future champions. I must acknowledge Lt. Gen. Sukhdeep Sangwan for making tremendous changes in this school with the several initiatives taken over the years. The sports school will be an added crown in the achievement of the school and this will be a huge boost to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a sporting powerhouse,” he said.

The Assam Rifles Public School was designated as a Khelo India Sports School because of a good track record in academics & sports, adequate boarding & lodging (hostel) facilities, sufficient space to develop sports facilities and inclination to develop Olympic sports under an inter-ministerial partnership between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The disciplines finalised for the school are Archery, Athletics and Fencing with a total intake strength of 100 athletes (Boys & Girls in equal ratio) for the first year.