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'Learn from China'

We should have a playground in every village. We should be addicted to every game: Sunil Dutt


"IF INDIA is not able to make an impression in big events like the Olympics, it is basically because we lack the sports culture," says Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Sunil Dutt.

Dutt, who made a brief stopover in the city before leaving to Udhagamandalam, spoke about India's performance at the Olympics.

Playground in every village

"How many playgrounds do wehave in India?" he asks. "We have stadiums.

But most of them are used only during national or international events. We should have a playground in every village. We should be addicted to every game. Only then will we improve," he added.

Dutt cites China as a classic example. "If they are successful, it is because they groom talent right from the grassroots level. Also, they spend a lot of money to set up academies in different disciplines. China invested close to $1.2 billion to upgrade facilities. We have to do likewise. We need to find talented kids ," he adds.

Is the Ministry seriously thinking on these lines?

"No. Sports is a State subject. We cannot design plans without the support of the State Governments concerned. We are planning to organise a conference involving all the States shortly."

India's performance

Talking about the Olympics, he says our athletes have done a good job.

"Rathore got us the silver medal. We should be proud of this considering our previous track record. Our girls, especially Anju and Shobha, have also done fairly well. We made a mark in archery. It's just that the global competition was too strong. It's not right on our part to expect too much from our athletes with only limited facilities."

About hockey, he says the players are not to be blamed. "We are more used to playing on rough surfaces. Also, the Europeans have modified the sport to suit their style of play. They play hockey very fast. I watched our boys play Holland. They were much faster than us."

On the doping controversy, he says: "We have always made sure that out athletes are `clean'. The coaches should be blamed for this. A coach is like a father figure and he should not encourage an athlete to take drugs. ," he says.

RR

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