Delhi children moving force behind Commonwealth Games: Sports writer

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
Sunday, September 26, 2010

NEW DELHI - The bid for the Commonwealth Games 2010 was spurred by an appeal made by students of 120 schools of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), says sports writer and filmmaker Sunil Yash Kalra.

“They prepared a memorandum, put their signatures and said, ‘Hey, we want the Commonwealth Games’,” Kalra told IANS. His book, “Road To Commonwealth Games 2010″ (A Penguin-India publication) - a dossier listing the history of the Games, its stakeholders and logistics - was released in the capital this week.

Kalra’s book covers the history of the Games in 11 chapters - from how the capital won the bid for the Games, preparations, upgrading logistics, media participation, impact, issues and the legacy.

He says while Indian sportspersons will aim at propelling India to its best medal haul at the Oct 3-14 Games, “the real gains will be seen in the revival of sports in various schools and colleges”.

“In Delhi and NCR at least 27 percent of the schools has some kind of structured sports and the number will rise to 52 percent in the next few years. Thousands of schools that are coming up in the country are providing opportunity for sports to children and this is having a trickle down effect in the country. Sports is fast becoming a way of life in India - especially with corporate support,” Kalra told IANS.

Kalra, who has been associated with the Indian sports in different capacities for over a decade, has made a docudrama on women’s cricket, “Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies”. He has also written a coffee table book, “Commonwealth Journey from Melbourne to New Delhi”, in 2006. He has also worked with the ministry of sports and youth affairs to create logo and brand identity for “Pykka” (Panchayat Yuva Krida Khel Abhiyan) - the largest sports initiative for rural sports in India.

He recently contributed a 100-foot photo canvas on Indian sports, created specifically for the ministry of railways’ Commonwealth train.

Kalra’s Commonwealth diary is intended for children. “I wanted to highlight the impact of Commonwealth Games on the children and students,” Kalra said.

“D.R. Saini, principal of the Delhi Public School in R.K. Puram, recalls that the outlook of their school towards sports changed when the CBSE introduced sports as a subject in 1985. DPS students scored the maximum in this subject at an all-India level over the next two years. In 2003, DPS students had played a role in the capital’s successful bid for the 2010 Commonwealth Games - they were among the 400,000 school children who had signed an appeal to the CWG delegation for choosing Delhi as the host. The principal of the school was confident that world class sportspersons will emerge from the school in times to come,” Kalra said.

If the schools played a key role in bringing the Games to India, “the universities were not behind”.

“According to Gurdeep Singh, undersecretary, sports, association of Indian Universities, nearly 40 percent of the players in the Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games are from universities,” Kalra said.

The country has not been lagging behind sports education, the writer says in his book.

The first management diploma course in sports was introduced way back in 1957, the centenary year of the India’s first War of Independence (then called Sepoy Mutiny), with the inauguration of the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education in Gwalior. Since then, several sports institutes funded by the ministry of national and youth affairs have come up in the country.

In June, the Khalsa College in Delhi University introduced the first short-term certificate course in Sports Economics and Marketing. The Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A) announced a course in professional management of sports organizations commencing 2010-2011.

“Incidentally, the Olympic bronze medalist and poster boy of Indian wrestling, Sushil Kumar has already enrolled for a master’s degree in physical education and aims to become the first Khel Ratna Awardee to acquire a PhD,” Kalra said.

The writer said the Games are also renewing citizens’ commitment to environment and awareness about “clean living”.

Another book, “Sellotape Legacy: Delhi & The Commonwealth Games” by Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta published by HarperCollins-India this month takes a close look at the politics of the Commonwealth Games and the money that has been spent on shaping the priorities.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

Filed under: Commonwealth Games, Cricket

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