Rural people in our country comprise of much higher percentage of populations than residents concentrated in urban areas. It may come as a surprise to some that rural people do have a higher level of physical fitness too as compared to urban counterparts. It therefore becomes essential to look for talents lying dormant among rural youth so that they can be made to participate in sports events. It is our hope that we can set up means to cull out sports persons so that they stand a chance for inclusion at national and even international levels.
We need to pay attention to closing existing gaps by exploring ways to set up rural sports facilities. For some strange reason sports have remained confined to citified populations. It is for this reason that you will find awareness, equipments, training, infrastructure and other sports facilities available largely for urban people. Despite the fact that Rural Sports Programme launched by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India in 1970, it has till date clearly not managed to reach rural populations.
HERD Foundation is of the view that given appropriate means and wherewithal rural sports can flourish. It is up to most of us to ensure that sports and games are given the right push. It is therefore our endeavor to broad-base games and sports events in rural areas. We have been experimenting on our own by arranging volleyball, cricket and kabbadi tournaments in identified rural districts for past three years. Our efforts and ensuing outcomes make us believe that it is a vital area of interest, one that can change the rural scenario.
However financial aspects of indulging into sports venture leaves us perplexed. It is a fiscally demanding area of operations, one in which even the government allocated funds fail to find their mark. Aside from funds not reaching the last mile, inherent corruption makes funds disappear before they can be used for the given purposes. Also there has been no systematic attempt to propagate sports activities in rural areas. Added to this is the dismal lack of public awareness in rural areas that they do have access to sports.
Studies indicate that rural citizenry remains unaware of State government measures for meeting sports needs, at both district and block levels. Not many people know that State governments are liable to organize sports even at village levels. This means that Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is not able to disseminate knowledge related to access to sports and sports schemes at village levels. The fact is information reaches only up to block level where Block Youth Affairs and Sports Officials usually have an office. Clearly the responsibility for promoting and training rural sports is not being taken seriously.
Our own experimentation over the past three years have shown that the test of raw strength and stamina in rural parts is truly remarkable. We have had plenty of fun, frolic and competition in some of the identified sports that proved popular. We see the activities going far beyond than what we aimed for. What had started out as a scheme to introduce the fun of sports and skills through our programme, now wants us doing much more. Our hopes are pinned on our endeavor to extend rural sports to be recognized as a crucial link for wider outreach.