New Delhi, August 2: In a landmark decision, aimed at galvanising track and field sport at the grass-roots level, the Athletics Federation of India has decided to provide grants to 100 Districts Athletics Associations in recognition of their consistent good work to promote athletics in their area and compete in the National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet (NIDJAM) each year.
AFI President AdilleSumariwalla said this would be a pilot project this year and would be extended to more districts in a couple of years. “We have always encouraged and recognised work at the grass-roots level, and we believe that this would be the first time a National Sports Federation is providing grants to district associations,” he said.
Mr. Sumariwalla said the Federation was confident that the move to provide grants to district associations would come a fillip to track and field sport at the bottom of the pyramid. “We know that we have to broaden the base to be able to find the talent that can be nurtured to passionately pursue Olympian dreams,” he said.
The AFI President said the idea had the support of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ Khelo India programme. “We met the Ministry and Sports Authority of Indian officials a few weeks ago to finalise the modalities of this game-changing move,” Mr. Sumariwalla said. AFI has already initiated the process of identifying the 100 districts to be provided financial support this year.
AFI believes that this move will inspire the State Associations to streamline themselves better. At the recent annual general meeting of the Federation, officials State Associations were told in clear terms to shape up or ship out. AFI also encouraged youngsters from the districts to take up and complete the IAAF Coaches Education and Certification Level 1 programme.
All districts will conduct their championships ahead of the 17th NIDJAM for under-16 and under-14 boys and girls which will be held from November 24. The Federation is planning a meeting with the presidents and secretaries of close to 500 districts to share details of the AFI development programme and motivate them to make athletics more popular in their respective districts.
It may be mentioned that some of India’s brightest athletics stars like javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra (2012) and sprinter Dutee Chand (2011) as well as discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon(2010) and 400m runner V Subha (2014) are among those who cut their teeth in the earlier editions of NIDJAM.