New Delhi: Refuting allegations from some of the sports federations about delay in departure of the Indian contingent for the ongoing Asian Games in Incheon, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today made it clear that his ministry sent the squads at the "right time".
Asked if his ministry would take the blame for alleged delay in departure, Sonowal replied: "We did not send them late, we sent them at the right time."
After six days of competition, India have 15 medals with 13 of them bronze, but minister is still optimistic.
"I am hopeful we will get more gold medals. Have patience in our team, (dheeraj rakhiye aap log)," Sonowal told mediapersons at a promotional event, here today.
Sonowal also said that Ravi Shastri and Indian support staff's success in the ODI series against England is something that can be followed in Olympic sports also where domestic coaches should be given due recognition.
"I fully agree that Indian coaches should get due recognition as we have a lot of accomplished domestic coaches. Look how our Indian cricket coaches (referring to Ravi Shastri and Co) did well recently and we should follow the same line in other events also."
The Sports Minister agreed that a judicious blend of domestic and international participation will make India a better sporting nation.
"I am told this area of conversion from participation into medals needs to be deeply thought. There should be proper chemistry between domestic and international competitions," said Sonowal.
The Minister also defended the football team that crashed out in the group league conceding seven goals in two matches against the UAE and Jordan.
"Football is one of the most popular games in the
country. I have seen that sports lovers in our country want football to be promoted. We would be having the U-17 FIFA World Cup in India in three years' time. That's the biggest event happening in the history of international football. We have to produce international class footballers," Sonowal said.
Sonowal also defended the ministry's decision to clear a jumbo contingent stating that this exposure is needed to gain experience in developing proper infrastructure for creating champions.
"Sports is science now. In fact, sports and technology (science) are an integral. Our government under Narendra Modiji is aiming to promote sports and that's why additional resource was allocated in the sports budget (for Asian Games). We want to provide quality support to all sportspersons in terms of nutrition, physios, every aspect."
Sonowal also congratulated legendary shooter Abhinav Bindra for his contribution to Indian sports after the ace marksman announced that he might not compete again in serious events after the Asian Games.
"Abhinav Bindra's contribution in raising the profile of sports in this country is immense. On behalf of the people of India, I would like to thank him for his contribution in Indian sports."