Accelerate the pedal

The fate of most sportspersons in India has long been obliterated by focused intervention only on selected avenues and a general apathy towards building and nourishing holistic talent. Despite the likes of Mary Kom, Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu, among others, bringing laurels to the country, India does not seem to have woken up to the spirit of engaging with sports beyond the exaltation of cricket. Broadly, men's sports in India and men's teams continue to gather support and praise while pocketing massive cheques. Whereas, lesser known sports, especially women's teams are left to fend for themselves. In a shameful incident brought to light, the girls' hockey team visiting Australia on a tournament, alleged that they had been subject to ill-treatment and mismanagement by the officials catering to their needs which led to them missing out on two games. They said that transport had not been provided for them to reach the venue on time for the first match; the harangued girls ultimately made their own arrangements by booking a taxi and finally reaching the venue late for both their games. They were also left to deliberate with the organisers as none of the official representatives of the country accompanied them to the venue to provide support on their behalf. This incident isn't surprising at all. Time and again we have heard reports of how sportspersons are not provided adequate facilities, services or equipment to harness their talent, even at the most crucial juncture of international events. This highlights the latent mentality prevailing in our society where first, children are discouraged to actively adopt sports as a way of life or employment; and second, girls are hardly ever considered to be a significant aspect of our country's sporting heritage. This spells ill not only for the players who spend endless hours toiling to perfect their game but also for the reputation of the country that is entirely corrupted on an international arena. Women's empowerment can occur only through holistic moves by the concerned authorities. Each avenue—education, health, nutrition, vocational engagement, sports, arts, has to be developed to pave the way for the women of our country to deliver and achieve their dreams. Despite the many laurel-winning Bollywood films showcasing the talents of young women athletes, the consciousness of our country continues to be blanketed in primitivity. While cricketers enjoy the comfort of five-star hotels and extensive media glare, the young struggling athletes, who in a different country would have been exalted for their talent are dying in the shadows of mismanagement and complete apathy. The government must accelerate its pedals and protect the budding enthusiasts in our country whose expertise is being annihilated by the incompetence of the very same authorities whose task is to empower them.