The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi declared open Khelo India University Games 2023 via video conferencing today. The games will witness the participation of over 4750 athletes from more than 200 Universities competing in 21 sports categories.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone on the organization of Khelo India University Games 2023 and said that Uttar Pradesh has become a confluence of sporting talent today. The Prime Minister noted that the 4000 athletes that are taking part in the Khelo India University Games have come from different states and regions and especially welcomed them as a Member of Parliament from the state. He expressed delight that the closing ceremony of the event will take place in Varanasi which is his constituency. Observing the importance of organizing the third edition of the Khelo India University Games when India is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Prime Minister said that the event has become an excellent medium to inculcate the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ along with team spirit. He said that athletes coming from different regions will interact with each other and also visit various places in Uttar Pradesh where the events are taking place. This, the Prime Minister said, will result in building a connect with such places, and expressed confidence that participating in the Khelo India Games University will be a cherished memory for all athletes. He also wished them huge success in the upcoming competitions.
The Prime Minister said that in the last 9 years a new era of sports started in India which is not just about making India a big power in sports but also is an era of empowering society through the medium of sports. The Prime Minister recalled the earlier period of indifference towards sports where sports did not get the requisite support from the governments. This made it extremely difficult for the poor, middle class and rural children to excel in sports. Which made many parents ignore sports as it had limited scope as a career. The Prime Minister underscored the huge change in attitude towards sports among the parents. “Sports is now being viewed as an attractive profession and Khelo India Abhiyan has played a big role in that”, he said.
The Prime Minister recalled scams surrounding the Commonwealth Games in India as an example of the attitude of the earlier governments towards sport. He also talked about the lack of sincerity in the schemes like Panchayat Yuva Kreeda aur Khel Abhiyan which was later named as Rajiv Gandhi Abhiyan. Shri Modi lamented the absence of sports infrastructure in earlier times. All this is changing, he said. Regarding Urban Sports infrastructure, the Prime Minister said that earlier governments spent just 300 crore rupees in 6 years whereas under Khelo India now 3000 cr rupees have been spent on sports infrastructure, making it easier for more athletes to take up sports.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that about 30,000 athletes have participated in Khelo India Games so far. Out of which 1500 athletes are getting financial assistance. The budget for sports has seen a three-fold rise compared to what was there 9 years ago. He said even the rural and remote areas are getting better sports infrastructure.
Talking about Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister talked about the expansion of sports facilities in Lucknow, the modernization of Sigra Stadium in Varanasi, and the creation of modern sporting facilities with an allocation of 400 crore rupees. He mentioned the synthetic hockey field at Lalpur, the multi-purpose hall at Veer Bahadur Singh Sports College in Gorakhpur, the synthetic hockey field in Meerut and the synthetic running track in Saharanpur.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the athletes are getting better competition exposure which is providing them more opportunities to assess and improve. This was the main reason behind starting Khelo India Games which have expanded to Khelo India University Games and Khelo India Winter Games. This is bearing fruits and building up the confidence of our sportspersons and getting great results in international competition, he said.
The Prime Minister informed that the National Educational Policy has proposed to take sports as a subject where it will become a part of the curriculum, and the construction of the country’s first National Sports University will further strengthen the cause. In states, the Prime Minister informed, efforts are being made towards sports-specialized higher education. He said that Uttar Pradesh is doing a very commendable job and gave the example of the Major Dhyan Chand Sports University in Meerut. He also highlighted that 1000 Khelo India Centers are being established all over the country. The Prime Minister informed that around 12 National Centers of Excellence have also been made functional where support is provided for training and sports science support to improve performance. “Khelo India has also restored the prestige of India’s traditional sports”, the Prime Minister said as he highlighted the scholarships provided by the Government to encourage various indigenous sports like Gatka, Mallakhamb, Thang-ta, Kalaripayattu and Yogasan.
Noting the encouraging result of the increased participation of women in the Khelo India program, the Prime Minister informed that Khelo India Women’s League is being organized in many cities of the country. “About 23 thousand women athletes of different age groups have participated in it so far”, he said. The Prime Minister also noted the large participation of female athletes at the Khelo India University Games and conveyed his best wishes to them.
“India’s progress lies in your talent, your progress. You are the future champion”, the Prime Minister remarked as he underlined that it is the responsibility of the athletes to take the glory of the Tricolour to new heights. Speaking about sportsmanship and team spirit, the Prime Minister put out a question if it is just limited to accepting defeat and victory, and teamwork. The meaning of sportsmanship, the Prime Minister explained, is wider than this. Sport inspires us towards collective success by rising above vested interests. He further added that sports teach us to follow decorum and the rules. Noting that players do not lose their composure when circumstances are against them and always stay committed to the rules. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said that staying within the limits of rules and regulations and overcoming the opponent with patience is the identity of a player. “A winner becomes a great player only when he always follows the spirit of sportsmanship and dignity. A winner becomes a great player only when society takes inspiration from his every conduct”, the Prime Minister concluded.
The Prime Minister has laid enormous focus on developing a culture of sports in the country and encouraging youth to take up sports. Various schemes have been launched by the government to support budding sportsmen and efforts have been put in to strengthen the sports ecosystem in the country. The organization of the Khelo India University Games is another step in this direction.
This year, the third edition of the Khelo India University Games will be held from 25th May to 3rd June in Uttar Pradesh. These competitions will be organized in Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Lucknow and Gautam Buddha Nagar. The Games will witness the participation of over 4750 athletes from more than 200 Universities, who will be competing in 21 sports. The closing ceremony of the Games will be held in Varanasi on 3rd June. The mascot of the Games is named Jitu, which represents Swamp Deer (Barasingha) – the state animal of Uttar Pradesh.