New Delhi: `Catch them Young` seems to be the catchphrase of Sports Authority of India (SAI) that has come up with an ambitious plan under which it wants to spend a whopping sum to the tune of USD 178 million (approx Rs 984 crore) to prepare athletes for the 2020 Olympics.
A programme `Vision 2020` under the aegis of Union Sports Ministry has been chalked out, which aims at selection of the junior talent, imparting good training and arranging for their exposure tours abroad.
The unique scheme, based on the pattern of Chinese and Eastern European countries, is aimed at identifying the talent at the age of 13-15 years and to provide them with the best of facilities and systematic training over a period of eight years so as to enable the players to attain peak performance at the 2020 Olympics, resulting in at least 25-30 medals for India in the Games.
The major funding involves national coaching camps and international exposures till 2016-17 (Rs 380 cr); national coaching camps and international exposures from 2017-18 to 2020-21 (Rs 300 cr) and 38 foreign coaches` salary (Rs 90 cr).
The scheme, launched under the guidance of former SAI Director General Desh Deepak Verma and headed by Roque Dias, Regional Director (LTDP - Youth OG` 20), will involve agencies like Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and National Sports Federations (NSFs).
The importance will be given to all the disciplines identified by International Olympic Committee (IOC) by forming a core group of 2500 trainees from the initial 8500 trainees in the Zonal camps.
The camps will be organised from 2012-13 for all the Olympic disciplines to be part of the 2020 Games.
Under the scheme, insurance cover in terms of stipend at Rs 3,000 per month will be provided to all the trainees undergoing national coaching camps and monetary incentive of Rs three lakhs for individual event and Rs 1.5 lakhs for team members would be provided to those athletes who qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
The SAI has set an aim of 20-30 per cent selection of the athletes from the scheme for the 2016 Rio Olympics. After the Rio de Janeiro Games, the athletes in certain disciplines will be provided with high altitude training camps so as to get Olympic quota in the recognised World Cup/World Championship, Olympics qualifying events and Asian Championships.
At least 60-70 per cent of trainees selected in this scheme (sub-juniors/juniors/youth) will be expected to perform and win medals at the 2018 CWG/World Championships and the 2019 Asian Games.
About 80 per cent of the participants will be from the scheme (age 21-23) and the remaining will be selected on the basis of their performance during competitions and trials (age 23-36).
The best foreign coaches available will be appointed along with the Indian coaches to train the young athletes and as an integral part of the training, yoga experts for each discipline will be attached with the team.
The best and latest technology along with scientific back up and sports facilities available will be provided to these sportspersons from the very beginning of their training. The video analysis software will be utilised for performance analysis during training and competition and sportspersons will be given diet and training at par with the senior category.
The scheme has been endorsed by Adille J Sumariwalla, President, Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI); Padamshree Satpal, President, School Games Federation of India (SGFI) and Onkar Singh, General Secretary, Cycling Federation of India (CFI).
It has been observed by SAI that developed countries in the field of sports have been using this long-term preparation of the sportspersons over a period of 8 to 10 years and these countries are placed among the top-ranked nations in the medals tally at the Olympic Games.