Sports school gets off the mark

- May 8, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

After much delay, the Delhi Sports School project got underway with trials held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex. Students from far-flung areas vied for spots

COURTSIDE: Hopefuls ready to show their skills at the badminton court

The long-awaited and delayed Delhi Sports School, a state government project to train young sporting talent from across the country in the national capital, is finally on its way after selection trials for it were conducted in 10 Olympic disciplines at south Delhi’s Thyagaraj Sports Complex last week.

The venue witnessed hectic activity on April 28 and 29 with school-going students of sixth to ninth classes excited to be part of the talent scouting campaign by Delhi government to select potential athletes for the sports school, which is expected to begin in July.

The trials were held in athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

The state government had, in fact, announced the start of the admission process on June 22, 2022 with online registration of students.

The authorities had planned to start the academic session in 2022-23 itself. However, it couldn’t begin in the previous academic year.

Besides Delhi, the talent scout search will be conducted in as many as 13 states across the country, including Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

In the first batch, the Delhi government has plans to select 200 students for its sports school scheme.

According to Karnam Malleswari, Olympic bronze medallist in weightlifting and vice chancellor of the Delhi Sports University, the sports school will be funded by the Delhi government and will be under the umbrella of Delhi Sports University.

HOPES: A parent drops her child at the Delhi Sports School trials

“Our main objective at the Delhi Sports School is to prepare a pool of talent for Delhi Sports University and take India’s sports scenario to next level,” the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games bronze medallist added.

Among hundreds of youngsters at the trials were three aspiring students of Burari government school, who came early morning at the venue for a shot at admission in the sports school.

Raghav Kumar, Narayan Kumar and Sumit Pandit, all three friends and students of the same class, were so excited that they took an auto from home and reached the venue early in the morning to take part in the admission trials.

Raghav said he will give trials for badminton, while Narayan Kumar and Sumit Pandit wanted to try athletics.

“Since we are interested in sports, we filled the forms for the ‘sports school’ scheme at our school. We have come here to give our best,” the trio said in unison.

GRAND WELCOME: The board at the entrance of venue displaying the names of 10 sports disciplines for which the trials were held

According to a senior official of the Delhi government, a school in Delhi’s Civil Lines (Ludlow Castle government school No. 2) has been spotted for the ambitious project.

“The school will have facilities for at least seven disciplines, including shooting and table tennis,” the official added.

“The construction work is in process and should be complete by the end of June. We hope to enrol students in the first week of July.”

Om Prakash Singh Karhana, Olympian and former national record holder in men’s shot put says Delhi government’s initiative to start sports school is a good beginning for the ecosystem of sports in the country.

“Setting up sports school in the Capital will certainly give fillip to grassroots development in the country,” Karhana added.

The Delhi government had outsourced the two-day talent scout programme, conducted on Friday and Saturday (April 28 and 29) at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex.

The students were divided into two categories. Those in the sixth and seventh standards were clubbed in raw talent scheme, while class eighth and ninth students were grouped in proven talent as they have had some kind of experience in sports.

The aspiring students had to undergo different battery tests and the data collected will enable experts in the field to evaluate the potential of budding athletes and finalise the list.

There were as many as 11 motor skills conducted under the battery tests for aspiring players. Body composition, including mass index to evaluate percentage of fat in the body, was also conducted.

Medicine ball throw to evaluate natural strength in the shoulders was also part of the 11 motor skills.

Flexibility and coordination tests were also conducted. Reaction test, vertical jump and 30m flying start to evaluate speed of the potential athletes were part of the day long talent scouting scheme. Two lap races (800m) for endurance test and shuttle run (10m x 6) also took place. Height and weight parameters were also taken to add to the profile of each individual taking part in the scheme.

For eighth and ninth class students, sports specific tests were also conducted. Sports science test (Neuro app to check concentration of the athlete) and friendly competition was also done to evaluate the potential of students.

The Delhi government, said an official associated with the scheme, will also appoint coaches to impart training to polish the skills of the students selected for the sports school.

“The academic curriculum of the eligible students who will be enrolled under the sports school scheme will be modified to have a holistic development of the young talent,” the official added.

Overage has been a menace at the grassroots level. The officials associated are aware of the problem. Therefore, the final merit list will be approved only after proper age verification and medical tests of the eligible students.

Bhale Sharma, a retired official, came all the way in the morning from Najafgarh to Thyagaraj Sports Complex, to see his grandson, who is in class seventh, perform.

“My grandson has been going to a local wrestling training centre in Najafgarh. He has shown interest in wrestling so we got him for the talent scout programme,” the grandfather said.

While Rakhi Sharma, a housewife from east Delhi, wanted her daughter, who plays badminton and studies in class eighth in a government school, to try for the sports school.

“She has been playing badminton for the past two years. Since our daughter (Anushka) is interested in sports we are supporting her. We want her to do well in sports in the future. That is why we wanted her to take tests for the sports school,” Rakhi added.

TRACKSIDE: Students at trials overlook the athletics track

According to Rakhi, ‘sports school’ will be a good opportunity for a middle-class family like hers to avail modern facilities, which are otherwise unaffordable.

“When there is a government scheme to support talented athletes, why not avail that facility,” the mother said.

According to Malleswari, strengthening the grassroots system and nurturing potential athletes is the main focus of the project.

“Hopeful [that] through the national talent scouting drive we are able to contribute to the ecosystem of sports in India,” she added.