Mumbai: India`s World Cup winning hero Harbhajan Singh has put the process in place for a proposed state-of-art sports academy in his native state of Punjab.
"Yes, we have moved in this respect and submitted a detailed project report to the state government," said Harbhajan ahead of his IPL team Mumbai Indians’ match against Kochi Tuskers.
The Punjab government is presently in an overdrive to improve the lot of sports in the state and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had held a meeting with Harbhajan in this regard before the World Cup.
"Punjab has a slew of world-beaters in sports, including Abhinav Bindra, the first individual Olympics gold medallist of the country. Talent from interiors must have the right set-up and the ambit of its scope should go beyond cricket," Harbhajan said.
Apparently Punjab government shares the same vision. It has earmarked no less than Rs 100 crores for sports this year. It recently honoured 50 players with over Rs 7 crores as prize money for winning medals in Asian, Commonwealth Games and
international sports events.
Government jobs, scholarships and pensions are on the rise. Thirteen world class stadiums, including one in Jalandhar, is expected to be ready by year-end. Four sports schools and one sports college is in the pipeline.
"Sports now is a serious career option. World Cup has added to the trust. I meet youth everyday who want to excel in sports. They idolise you; want to emulate you. They approach you with hope. It?s our duty that their ambitions get the right platform. It’s good for society, good for the country," concluded Harbhajan.
Not that this project of Sports Academy has veered Harbhajan off the cricket pitch. Indeed going into match against the Tuskers, his economy rate is shade better than even irrepressible Lasith Malinga.