6 May 1983 |
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
People need to take as much interest in other sports as they take in cricket, and that's where we come across a vicious cycle of performance, sponsorship, recognition, jobs and TV visibility. It's a typical chicken-and-egg story; each one is directly related to the other without an answer for what comes first.
All of world's eyes are trained on the Games. So winning at that stage is heroic. It is a different feeling altogether and cannot be explained in words.
I think country needs to have a sporting culture. I think if sports were taken as curriculum in school and are encouraged in right way like government of Maharashtra and Haryana have done given Marks for Sports and encouraging them with good jobs.
Shooting is very challenging because 10 metre air rifle you have different rules, short gun you have different rules.
Now I know the difference between a rousing reception and a pat on the back. Now I know the difference between a gold in Commonwealth Games and a bronze in Olympics.
Not much is done to promote non-cricket sports in India. There is a lot of talk about how sports needs to reach the grassroots and how it should be introduced as a subject in school, but nothing has been done to that effect.
As kids, we have all handled shot guns. From there on, there is no transition. It stays in the toy box. The idea is to get the transition and bridge the gap between the toy box and the shooting range.
Cricket is a self-sustaining industry; but corporates need to realise that other sports don't have that luxury. This is the time when they need to invest, and keep the faith. Every sport has the potential to create world champions. Imagine India as a country full of world champions. Why imagine? Let's just make it happen.
Sporting culture is needed where marks are given to students for sports in schools, jobs are assured for sportsperson, and sponsors are willing to support them through rough times.
For your friends and family, you are always a champion, but for the media and sponsors, not until you show a spark. Making a champ is more important than celebrating one. I want to be there for youngsters and help them do their best.
To compare Olympic sport with cricket would not be fair. Years back, cricket was a sport only for the classes, and we will also have to make other sports masses from classes like cricket.
Cricket pays well, so a lot of people are naturally drawn towards the game. But to carve a niche in non-cricket sports is not easy. So state governments need to be proactive. Indians need to be made aware of the power of an Olympic medal. It should be treated at par with an Oscars or a Nobel Prize.
There was a time when my parents had to sell off a plot of land so that I can buy a rifle for competitive tournaments. After that we stayed in a rented house for the next 15 years.
Sport is an important part of the development of kids, and hence, it should be made a part of their curriculum.