Sonowal wants India to become a sporting hub

New Delhi: Laying out his vision, new Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said that India should aspire to become a sporting hub by making sports a way of life.

An active sportsman, having played cricket at the university level, Sonowal said he would want India to reclaim its lost glory in the games like hockey. "My vision is to make India a sporting country. I want to work with the motto `sports for all` to make it `a way of life` and achieve excellence," Sonowal told PTI on the sidelines of a conclave organised by business chamber ASSOCHAM here.

"I foresee India as a sporting hub of the world in future. India should dominate the world in various sports," he said after presiding over the inaugural session of `Young India @ 2030 Conclave: Preparing the Nation`.

Sonowal said he was a member of Dibrugarh University cricket team in national competitions, besides playing football, hockey and powerlifting in his student days in Assam.

"I represented Dribugarh University and also part of the Indian Parliament team and played against British Parliamentary team in UK," he said.

"I also played hockey and football in my student days and then dabbled in powerlifting also and became university champion," said the 51-year-old BJP Member of Lok Sabha from Lakhimpur.

Asked if he still follows Indian cricket team, Sonowal said, "It`s a question of passion for the game. I always enjoyed playing cricket. This is a special game which make me more involved in the entire thing."

On the current sorry state of hockey in the country, Sonowal said, "Hockey is a game which has a lot of emotional attachment with the people of this country. "It was because of hockey India made its presence felt in the sporting world long time back. So, I want the game to reclaim its past glory," he said.

Sonowal was, however, non-committal on the chances of India getting the hosting rights of 2019 Asian Games after Indian Olympic Association formally expressed its interest to the Olympic Council of Asia to bid for the Games. Asked if the government was willing to host the Asian Games which may cost thousands of crores to the exchequer, he said, "We have asked the IOA to submit us a comprehensive presentation on various aspects of the Games. The IOA is yet to present all the details to us. We will take a call only after IOA does that."

He was also optimistic that the country would do well in the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games and carry forward the momentum generated by a good show in 2012 London Olympics. "I am hoping that Indian athletes will do well in the 13 disciplines they are competing in the Glasgow CWG and after that in the Asian Games."

Asked if he considered himself as the right person to head the Sports Ministry considering his sporting background, Sonowal said, "It is not for me to comment on that. It is for others to say according to my performance."

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