As Indian athletes resume training after the long halt, aiming to achieve their best in the upcoming Olympics, Vice-president of Indian Olympic Association and president of Athletics Federation of India, Adille Sumariwalla remarked, ‘India needs a Sachin Tendulkar in every sport to achieve its dream of becoming an Olympic power’
Talking about India’s chances at the Tokyo Olympics marking the International Olympic Day during a webinar organized by Sports For All, Sumariwalla further added: “Every sport probably already has several Sachin Tendulkars. But each of them needs the right platform to showcase his or her talent (and become world champions).” He agreed that money may or may not buy the country medals but a holistic ecosystem in sport would certainly do so in the long run. “We need the best of both, hard and soft, infrastructure, especially at the grassroots level,” he averred, praising SFA’s efforts to emphasize this aspect.
STAR and Disney India’s Deep Mukherjee, former CEO of CII’s Making India Play initiative, too pushed for a more bottom-up approach towards the sport in India, encouraging children to play from an early age, without worrying too much about competition. “Sport is as important as Math and Science. It plays a vital role in helping a child learn and grow. It is probably the most potent weapon in the rise of a developing nation like ours,” he said.
Sachin Tendulkar, the single biggest factor behind the unprecedent boon of popularity that cricket enjoys in India, has been a vital reason that led to the Indian board becoming the richest and most of cricket board in world cricket. In India, a country that is already inclined to cricket, Tendulkar gave the people a hero they could look upto and propelled cricket, a mere game, from a sport to a religion in the subcontinent.
The session moderated by SFA’s founder Rishikesh Joshi saw a handful of international panelists too, including Rushdee Warley of Inspire Institute of Sport, Dean Horridge of Fit For Sport and UK’s Junior Adventure Group, and Jeremy Hazin who is a Canadain international table tennis player.