‘We Encourage The PPP Model In Sports’
Minister of State (independent charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vijay Goel, is a man in a hurry. When he is not talking about scouting for new sports talent in the country, he takes on the AAP leadership in Delhi. In an exclusive interview with Suman K Jha, Goel says that he would encourage the PPP model in sports
Photo Credit : Tarun Gupta
Minister of State (independent charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vijay Goel, is a man in a hurry. When he is not talking about scouting for new sports talent in the country, he takes on the AAP leadership in Delhi. In an exclusive interview with Suman K Jha, Goel says that he would encourage the PPP model in sports. He calls the mushrooming leagues in various sports a welcome phenomenon as it furthers the cause of sports. He, however, also talks about why they may have to be regulated in the future.
You have been the Sports Minister for close to 10 months now. What have been your achievements?
Sports was never accorded its due all these years. It is only after the Narendra Modi government came to power that sports — and this includes all sports — got the attention and importance they deserved. Only recently, the budgetary allocation for sports saw a good increase. If you ask me what I am doing on the ground, I would say, we have held meetings with all the stakeholders.
The first meeting that we convened was the one of Dronacharya award winners, Arjuna awardees, Olympians and the Commonwealth winners.
We called a meeting at Vigyan Bhawan in the national capital and we took all their inputs. Thereafter, we called a meeting of all sporting federations and we discussed the problems that they had. As you know that grants had been stopped to the B-category federations and they could not hold tournaments. I reversed the decision as soon as I became a Minister. They all are happy now. Also, we called two meetings of the sports ministers of all the states and they were quite eventful. We are moving in a direction so that sports can be included in the concurrent list. We also convened a meeting of the PSUs, so that they contribute to the cause of sports across the country.
There is an element of business involved with sports. What are your thoughts about it?
Everyone knows and appreciates that India is going to be a hub of various sporting activities. So, the industry and private players also want to participate. The industry also sees a huge business potential here. In addition, this opens up the avenues for foreign coaches and experts from across the world. When there is much attention and interest in India as a sporting hub, it becomes all the more important for us to promote such tendencies and players.
There is a huge ecosystem that thrives on various sports. What are your thoughts on it?
This development is only to be welcomed. This furthers the cause of sports. Now, we see a plethora of leagues. Initially there was only a league on cricket. That ambit has expanded and leagues of various other sports have either come up or are in the process of being shaped up.
Apart from cricket, hockey, sports, kabaddi, wrestling are a few sports where we have seen such developments. It is only natural that we welcome and encourage this. It is true that some people are making money. But it is also true that the cause of sports is being promoted.
IPL changed the way we look at cricket and, at a larger level, sports. What are your thoughts on the IPL?
It is good that due to the IPL, cricket, which already was popular here, was further popularised, and new faces and talents got an opportunity to perform. But if you ask me, when it comes to the ministry, we focus more on other sports. For instance, this year is the year of soccer.
After IPL, came leagues of kabaddi, wrestling, etc., and more are in the pipeline. You think it is good for the country?
Absolutely. I think it is overall very good for the country, various sports, and sportsmen. Let these sports be promoted in earnest. If then, there is a need to regulate these sports, we will do that later.
So, you are not ruling out a law for regulating them?
Yes. Look at us — we have been proactive. In the IOA case, charge-sheeted people were made lifetime presidents. We immediately intervened. We suspended the IOA. We told them, unless you remove them, we will not take back the suspension. Federations are falling in line.
What about the private sector participation in sports?
Governments cannot fund each and every thing. So, I think the PPP model is important for various sports, and we would welcome and encourage private sector participation on these lines.
Do you think market forces have managed to dominate various sports, especially with the prevalence of various leagues?
I see no problems with the increasing participation and involvement of broadcasters, advertisers, etc. You have to understand that the core would remain the sportsman — who is my and my ministry’s focus area.
What I should not lose sight of is — that various sports are getting encouraged. The involvement of other players is secondary to this.
We are having a plethora of sporting leagues. You hinted at it. What kind of regulation can we look at?
You should understand that we respect the autonomy of sports. We, however, also want that accountability and transparency are maintained in the administration of various sports. In future, if there are shortcomings, or flaws, we would definitely regulate them.
But are you concerned that the leagues are making a lot of money, perhaps at the cost of the sports itself?
That doesn’t bother me. For me, what is important is that the cause of sports is furthered. I am also taking special interest in resolving the disputes between various federations.