Watch: Arjuna Awardee Athlete Anju Bobby George Praises Support From Modi Govt Towards Development Of Sports In India
Famed former Indian athlete Anju Bobby George has highly appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi-led central government towards the increased focus on the development of sports in the country.
Speaking in an interview on the Sony Sports channel, George stressed upon the fact that the Indian government is prioritizing athletes. She expressed that nobody wants to miss the opportunity of the PM calling to directly talk to them after winning the medal.
The only Indian world champion at the IAAF World Athletics Final, the 44-year-old expressed that the Sports Minister used to be only a visitor to the Olympic Village during her playing career.
“This is for the first time that it is happening like that. During our time, even our Sports Minister was a visitor in Olympic village. Even after winning the World Championship medal, India celebrated in a big way but the Ministry side nothing big. Yes, the Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh) congratulated me, otherwise, nothing was there. This time, even before the games, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is calling the athletes, interacting with them one to one, and encouraging them. Something big is happening in India. I am really missing out on fun and opportunities,” she added.
She even heaped praise on former Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who played a key role in shaping India’s prospects in the quadrennial event over the last couple of years. Rijiju moved out of the sports ministry in the Union Cabinet reshuffle last month but still remained actively involved in following and cheering for the Indian contingent amidst the Olympics.
“He was very much into sport and he knows each athlete. Whenever we messaged or called, he was there. And he is ready to support. That is the kind of encouragement Rijiju sir was giving to our athletes,” George added her in her interaction.
She also said that the incumbent minister Anurag Thakur comes from a sporting background as well and that the authorities are now supporting the players from the beginning and not only after they win a medal as such.
Talking about the long-term roadmap developed by the establishment, George revealed, “They are supporting. They are behind us. The confidence they are giving to each athlete is showing the result. There is work (on the grassroots level). There are long-term plans. Sports Authority of India (SAI) is now planning for the 2028 Olympic Games and 2032 Olympic Games. This is how the system should work.”
She mentioned that younger kids have greater opportunities available in the grassroots level now and have a chance to get noticed if they are talented enough. The veteran athlete remained optimistic that India will get to the top one day with this kind of support.
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