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10 things PM Modi’s Olympics task force should do to improve Indian sports

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While Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about a long-term plan to provide Indian athletes a much-needed support system, a lot will depend on the earnestness of the ‘task force’ .
Modi had on Friday announced the constitution of the crack team which will prepare a long-term road map — spanning three Olympic Games or 12 years. The decision came after India’s team of 118 athletes managed to bag just two medals -- one silver and the other bronze -- at the recently concluded Rio Games.
A plethora of ills continue to dog Indian sports, the least of them being official apathy that does not even respond to the most advanced antibiotics. Here are the 10 things the ‘task force’ can do to give that push to Indian athletes:
1. Catch them young: In 2013, Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, said: “During Olympics, people often say despite its huge size, we don’t get medals. Have we linked sports with our education system? Did we give enough opportunity to our youth...?” The best way to catch ’em young is to hunt for talent in schools.
2. Ensuring continuity in training and planning of calendar: Long gaps in training and coaching lead to performance levels reverting to original. Annual training schedules need to be formalised. These should include training in India and abroad, high altitude training, coaching and competitions (India and abroad) to cover 305 days in a year. This way continuity of training can be ensured.
3. Dietary supplements: Dietary requirements including food supplements should be provided under the supervision of experienced nutritionists and sports doctors.
4. Support of sports specialist doctors: Competent doctors with specialisation in sports sciences, physiologists, physiotherapists, masseurs, sports analysts, yoga instructors, psychologists depending upon the sports discipline should be made available to elite athletes.
5. Advanced equipment: SAI centres need to be strengthened and given a world-class makeover in terms of accommodation, training infrastructure and facilities, sports science backup equipment, performance monitoring equipments, etc.
6. Engagement of top-level foreign coaches: Top-of-the-line foreign coaches should be hired when there is a certainty in respect of their eligible remuneration and period of engagement.
7. Improve skills and techniques of home-bred coaches: Indian coaches should be sent for advance-level coaching abroad, so that they can come on par with foreign coaches.
8. Curbing doping: To keep doping in check, samples of athletes should be taken and checked on a regular basis in these training centres. Seminars, workshops for sportspersons and coaches should be conducted frequently to familiarise them with the rules and regulations and to educate them about the harmful effects of doping.
9. Monitoring system to assess impact of training/coaching on athletes: A web-based monitoring system needs to be developed to monitor the progress in performance levels of elite athletes. For each discipline, a set of monitoring parameters need to be developed and progress of each athlete with respect to these parameters should be recorded on a regular basis. The system will link the training centers to a central monitoring system.
10. Test events of international level: They should be organised in each discipline before major events. This will not just test the newly-created facilities but also enable the Indian athletes to familiarise themselves with competition environment.



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I have seen the work done and the amount of resources committed by TATA.

Take the case of Limba Ram, who broke the world record in archery in 1996. The Tata Sports Club (TSC) discovered him in an outback tribal area, hunting for game, which he shot with uncanny accuracy using his bow and arrows. The rest is history.
Tata Steel has buttressed Indian sports for many years. Most recently, it mentored Bulbul Marandi, who participated in the last world archery championship. The company has a formal sports department, operating since 1970. It started out by employing players proficient in athletics, cycling and boxing. In the 1970s, the teams that represented India in the Asian Games and Olympics comprised a number of Tata Steel and Tata Motors employees. Since then the department has kept on adding games to its portfolio while growing in manifold ways. Today several of the company's sportspeople have gone on to become coaches in the sports academies run by Tata Steel, which are among the best in the country.The first of these was the legendary Tata Football Academy (TFA), started in 1987, an assembly line that supplies talent for almost 80 per cent of India's junior teams. The trainees here are provided the very best of coaching and the absolute latest in technology. This shows in the results. Major clubs such as Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and Mohammedan Sporting vie to recruit players from TFA. In July 2004, the TFA team toured Germany and Holland, and bagged the prestigious Harlem Cup, beating Dutch and English club teams. "TFA is the nursery for Indian soccer," says Satish Pillai, who heads the Academy. "It is the first port of call of budding talent in the country."
While cricket is more visible at the international level, football fires the popular imagination at the domestic level, says Pillai, showcasing the relevance of TFA. "At a local football event, there will be at least 3,000 spectators, while a Ranji Trophy match won't draw more than 200 people," he points out.
The most recent institution backed by the Group is the Tata Athletic Academy (TAA). Says Pillai, "Athletics is important at the Olympics, but corporate houses do very little for it. That's why we started the academy in May 2004."
TAA has started with middle-distance runners. They are caught young and exposed to infrastructure of the highest international standard: a synthetic track, state-of-the-art gymnasium and international coaches. "The country has very few academies for athletics and Tata Steel will, with TAA, take Indian athletes to a new level," says Asian champion Bagicha Singh, now a coach with the academy.
The rationale for setting up the Tata Archery Academy, in 1996, was completely different. The aim was to help tribal people in Jharkhand maximise a skill they already possessed and thereby find their place in the national mainstream. It has helped people from this backward region become international stars. Not only did the Academy's cadets win all the medals at the last junior national championship, its archers went on to bag two silver medals at the World Archery Championship.
Tata Steel also supports seven other sports at its JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur. This world-class facility has a football ground and an eight-lane polyurethane track. It also has tennis courts, a hockey field, courts for basketball, handball and volleyball, an archery range, chess and boxing centres, and a gymnasium.
The complex is just one of the ways in which Tata Steel has turned sports into a way of life, for employees and others. The company also supports a flying club, golf courses, squash courts, billiards tables, a horse-riding range and a swimming pool.

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