Meerut: Athletics Federation of India on Saturday decided to introduce national championships at the school and college levels from next season to tap talent from among younger age group athletes.
The decision was taken on the first day of the two-day Annual General Meeting of the AFI here.
The federation, after detailed deliberations, decided to start National School Athletics Championships and National Inter-Collegiate Athletics Championships from next year.
"In the first day of Annual General Meeting here, it was decided to add two more national level championships to the Indian athletics calendar from next year onwards for school and collegiate athletes," the AFI said.
"It will be on the lines of popular NCAA championships of the United States," said AFI President Adille J Sumariwalla.
Following the decision to start the two new championships, it was decided to scrap the 25-year-old National Inter-Zonal championships from next year onwards.
"However, the zonal championships will be retained for two more years. Thereafter, a final decision about its continuity may be taken," Sumariwalla said.
The AFI said it has already appointed a special committee to work on the modalities of the National Collegiate Championships, which is inspired by one of the most successful programme for the development of athletics in the world, the US National Collegiate Championship.
Besides, the National School Athletics Championship will provide a unique platform for talented youngsters who aspire to take up athletics and excel at the highest level, it said.
Commenting on the development, Sumariwalla said, "AFI is confident that the National Collegiate Athletics Championships and the National School Athletics Championships is the need of the hour. It will not only raise the profile of the sport and attract the youth today, but also create a solid supply chain system for the elite training programme for Indian athletics.
"The ecosystem has to change for athletics to become the number one choice for talented youth. National Collegiate Athletics Championships will offer lucrative prize money and a few prominent broadcasters have approached the federation. We hope to finalise the deal soon," he said.
Meanwhile, the AFI AGM also decided that state units which were not carrying out their activities properly to promote athletics would be demoted to "associate state" status. The AGM will conclude on Sunday.