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SAI: shaping sportspersons

The careers of many who haven taken to sports are shaped well here

MONITOR AT WORK: An athlete's condition being at the SAI sports facility in Bangalore. - Photo: K. Murali Kumar

THE SPORTS Authority of India (SAI) is the premier sports institution in the country. It identifies, nurtures, trains and develops sportsmen and women scientifically, for high calibre performance and excellence in the chosen field.

Development of sports took formal shape in the country with the setting up of the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in 1961 at the Motibaugh Palace grounds in Patiala. With the awareness spreading, there was urgent need for infrastructure. The successful conduct of the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi saw sports development activities take off in a big way. And, thus, SAI was born, in amalgamation with the NIS, which was until then under the Society for National Institute of Physical Education and Sports (SNIPES). The SAI was headed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

To address the need of the sportspersons in the southern region — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Pondicherry and Lakshwadeep — the then Union Minister for Education, Nurul Hasan, inaugurated the NIS Southern Centre at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore in April 1974. Coinciding with the birth anniversary of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, after whom the NIS was renamed in 1975, the foundation stone for the present complex was laid on January 23, 1982. Built on 81.2 acres, it was inaugurated by the then President, Giani Zail Singh, on July 29, 1985.

The SAI South Centre, since then, has become very active centre and the fulcrum on which India's sporting future and excellence have revolved. Name the talent and he or she has been a by-product of SAI and more particularly the South Centre here in Bangalore.

The objectives of the Centre are:

to conduct coaching camps and assist the national teams for participation in international competitions;

to implement and monitor the sports promotional schemes of SAI and the Central Government in the southern region;

provide diploma course in coaching for various sports and games;

raise the technical competence and knowledge of coaches by conducting refresher courses;

assist and conduct refresher course for coaches and PE teachers of southern States;

provide organisational support, documentation and scientific information with a view to achieve excellence in sports;

cooperate with various organisations, to provide information on sports infrastructure;

identify the talented amongst various age groups and groom them for sports excellence;

provide scientific back-up to sportspersons to achieve high level performance.

The SAI Centre, situated about 14 km from Bangalore City, has a pollution- free atmosphere, ideal for training and relaxation. It also boasts of vast and well conceived facilities, both outdoor and indoor, that is easily the envy of other centres.


The centre also conducts a 10-month regular diploma course in coaching in varied disciplines and thousands of men and women have benefited from it. Courses for physical education teachers during the summer vacations are also conducted. An advanced knowledge on Sports Sciences is being imparted.

For SAI coaches and also for those from the State, orientation and refresher courses in various disciplines are conducted at regular intervals.With sports physiology, psychology, bio-mechanics, sports medicine and general theory and methods of training, the faculty boasts of a complete range that is very much a part of an athlete's development. "Scientific knowledge has revolutionised the standard of human performance in all sports disciplines. Sports scientists have evolved scientific methods for talent identification and training, for spotting the talented children and nurturing them through systematic training for higher level of performance," says G. Kishore, Director of the South Centre.

Dr. Kishore feels that "broadbasing and tapping the talent and training them for excellence are the two primary objectives for promotion of sports in India."

In his Vision 2020, Dr. Kishore states his aims and objectives. They are:

to make India emerge a super power in sports;

to create a congenial sports environment and culture;

provide access to the children and youth for training and coaching;

build a strong coaching cadre to meet the training needs of the youth of the country;

provide modern sports infrastructure in the rural areas of the country;

provide scientific support to the sportspersons from the district level;

develop professional sports managers/administrators by giving avenues to talented youth;

provide adequate budget for the conduct of various schemes and programmes through various sources/sports marketing;

make sports a way of life in Indian society.

The Sports Authority of India has launched various schemes to spot and nurture talent in different age groups:

National Sports Talent Contest (NSTC): This was launched in 1985 under which the talented children in the 8-14 years group are nurtured by providing scientific training.

Sports Hostels (SH): These have been started in association with the State Governments. At present, there are four hostels functioning at Bangalore, Secunderabad, Chennai and Calicut, to achieve international standards by providing training to talented sportspersons in the age group of 16-20 years.

Army Boys Sports Company (ABSC): The Army has joined hands with the SAI in this venture. The termination of boys' companies in the Army in 1976 has had a direct bearing on the decline of sports in the services as the boys' companies were the nurseries from which many outstanding sportspersons in the past were spotted and trained. Now, the Army has joined hands with the SAI to nurture talented boys of 8-14 years in 16 boys companies.

Special Area Games (SAG): The Special Area Games scheme aims at scouting and nurturing natural talent in the age of 14-21 years for modern competitive sports and games from inaccessible tribal, rural and coastal areas of the country. This scheme also envisages tapping of talent from indigenous games and martial arts and also from regions which are either genetically or geographically advantagous for excellence in a particular sports discipline.

Sports Project Development Area (SPDA): SAI Southern Region had started SPDA centres at Madikeri, Dharwad, Thrissur, Kollam, Nagercoil and Salem for those in the 9-14 age group. Each SPDA covers 80-100 blocks or taluks in each State/Union Territory.

This was started to establish and develop pyramidal sports infrastructure of different levels and also to tap the talents of sub-junior or junior age groups and train them on a long term basis.

National Coaching Scheme (NCS): Regional coaching centres have been established depending upon the requirements of the States/Union Territories. A maximum of eight coaches are posted in each centre. SAI has also given adequate number of coaches to the district coaching centres.

Prize Money Scheme for Schools: The incentive scheme for promotion of sports and games in schools through prize money was introduced in 1986. The winning schools of the district-level prize money competitions are awarded Rs. 10,000 in five disciplines viz. athletics, basketball, football, hockey and volleyball.

Sports Equipments for States/UTs: SAI extends the supply of sports equipments to the extent of Rs 1.5 lakhs per district. Sufficient grants are being released towards the purchase of equipment.

Centre of Excellence (CoE): This scheme envisaged induction of those who have shown promising performance in the senior national competitions beyond the above age groups for further training at the regional centres or sub-centres of SAI for nearly 200 days in a year. They are to be provided with the state- of-art facilities, equipment and scientific back-up along with specialised training.

These centres would be operating as coaching camps for the best talent and provide two or possibly three layers of sportspersons, giving a wider choice for selection to national teams.

Avinash Nair

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