“The emphasis will be on football, hockey and, especially, athletics. The reason why Bengal lags behind is the lack of importance given to building fitness and strength from a young age. Merely sending your boy and girl for cricket and football or tennis coaching is not enough”, Shukla told Millennium Post.
The ace all-rounder, who clocked over 5000 runs and over 150 wickets in Ranji matches for Bengal, is all for revving up traditional PT (physical training) classes in schools.
“These days children are getting used to battery operated gizmos like mobile phones and air-conditioned gyms. But building fitness is a must for every child who wants to become a successful sportsman.”You have to play a sport or run for at least two hours every day. I and Aroop Biswas will organize a campaign in the city schools to bring PT back in the curriculum and also visit some of the schools”, said Shukla, who announced his retirement from cricket in 2015.
Hand-picked by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Shukla defeated not just Bharatiya Janata Party’s star candidate Roopa Ganguly, but trumped veteran Congress leader Santosh Kumar Pathak by over 26,000 votes in the 2016 Assembly election.
“Players from Bengal should be given the opportunity to come up. I think players from the state should be given the priority for playing the big matches rather than hiring sportsmen from other states. The supply line is poor nowadays in Bengal”, rues Shukla.
As far as clubs are concerned, they hire a player only if he or she has achieved something in a field of sports. Shukla works out for over an hour at the gym daily, before stepping out to meet people in
A hard-hitting batsman and useful medium pacer, Shukla made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal in the 1997-98 season against Maharashtra.
In 1999, Shukla made his ODI debut for India. A pillar of the Bengal Ranji team, Shukla played a vital cameo in Kolkata Knight Rider’s qualifier against Delhi Daredevils in the 2012 edition of the Indian Premier League, scoring 24 runs in just 11 balls and helping his team to an 18-run win. He retired from all forms of cricket in 2015.