Tirupati, November 19: More than 4500 boys and girls in the under-16 and under-14 age-groups from a record 494 districts will compete in the MILO National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet 2019 to be held at the Sri Venkateswara University Stadium here from Saturday. It promises to be the biggest of the 17 editions of the competition.
For the record, the 2018 edition held at the same venue saw 4135 athletes from 414 districts while the year before had 4283 athletes from 424 districts competing for honours in Visakhapatnam. With Nestle-Milo coming on board this year as the title sponsor, MILO NIDJAM is poised to take track and field sport to the next level.
Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla said AFI is delighted that its persistent efforts to galvanise district associations were paying dividends. “We have always encouraged our State units and the district associations to support the raw talent at the grass-root level so that it finds expression on this big platform,” he said.
“We are sure it will not be long before we have close to 600 of India’s 731 districts taking part in MILO NIDJAM. We will work towards getting more participation from the States in the North East,” Mr. Sumariwalla said. “Our initiative of providing financial aid to 100 districts this year has been well received and we are hoping to extend it to all districts soon.”
The AFI President said MILO NIDJAM is its flagship event and its takes pride in the fact that it is a unique talent search programme. “It is wonderful to be able to offer close to 50000 youngsters across the country the opportunity to showcase their athletic skills in the National meet. At MILO NIDJAM, our coaches and scouts are able to identify the best for grooming,” he said.
Given the magnitude of the event, AFI restricts the number of entries from each district to 12 athletes. “It does two things. It not only ensures that there is some form of quality control in that each team will pick the 12 most deserving athletes to travel to Tirupati but also enables the host to plan logistics for a manageable number of athletes and officials,” the AFI President said.
MILO NIDJAM has come a long way from the first edition held in 2003 in Hardiwar and has served as one of the earliest platforms for stars like Neeraj Chopra, Dutee Chand and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon. It is now one of the largest talent search competitions, involving more than 50000 boys and girls in the two age-groups across the country.