“It’s time for our champions to pass the baton.” — An open letter to India’s leading sportspersons

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Piyush Sachdeva, the founder of several sports organizations and NGOs, appeals to the country’s most influential sports personalities to come forward and promote a stronger sporting culture in India.

India’s much-adored sporting heroes – this letter is for you,

Despite being home to over 1.2 billion people, India has produced only a handful of champions; people like you – who have not only won honours and accolades for India but also captivated our hearts and minds with your exceptional flair. However, while your commitment is exemplary, it also makes me question why we don’t see more Indian sportspersons dominating the world stage. After all, the country does not lack in sporting talent, awareness, or interest. Yet, the vast majority of athletes and career sportspeople in the country do not get their due recognition. Despite inadequate funds allocated for training and equipment, athletes are expected to perform superlatively at the international level. And even those who win honours – despite such insurmountable odds – are often relegated to fates like thisthis, or this.

This is not news to you: You, more than the rest of us, are aware of how challenging and seemingly impossible it is to gain appreciation purely based on one’s talents. What we really need is an overhaul in the national attitude towards sports. And, for this, we need you. It’s your turn to not just inspire upcoming and future generations of sportspersons but also ensure that we as a nation do not fail them when it comes to infrastructure, resources, and financial support.

I believe that a healthy and competitive sporting culture can only be inculcated from the grass-roots; that is, from the schools in the country that are currently mentoring India’s future. Unfortunately, there is rarely any constructive effort towards identifying and selecting talent at an age when they can be groomed for the world stage. Parents in India waste no time in reminding their children to study for exams; but, how much of this encouragement is given to youngsters who want to pursue their passion for, say, gymnastics or wrestling?

As a legendary sportsperson, your words and actions can change this. The expertise, experience, and influence you bring can help us spread awareness and build a mass movement towards encouraging Indian sports. Today, a lot of private organisations and NGOs—many of these run by former athletes—are striving to change the country’s attitude towards sports. With your public support, more and more Indians will be inspired to do their bit – whether it’s promoting sports in their neighbourhoods, donating old sports gear to local clubs, supporting regional tournaments, or simply encouraging the younger generation to participate in sports.

In fact, one important step we can all take is to promote a culture of sports in schools. After all, if the base of the pyramid is weak, how are we going to build a masterpiece? To this end, Tata Tea’s petitionto the Union HRD ministry asks authorities to make sports education compulsory across all schools. Your support for this movement can inspire several others – not just your fans and admirers, but also a whole new generation of sports enthusiasts – to believe in their passion and commitment.

We all want Indian athletes to shine gloriously on the world stage and hold their own against international counterparts. To achieve this, we must all do our bit, too. I sincerely hope you will be a part of this endeavour alongside me and the millions of other sports-loving citizens in the country.

Respectfully,
Piyush Sachdeva

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