Athletics webinar deliberates on ways to encourage local talent

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Jamshedpur, Oct 2: Tata Steel, today, organised an interactive panel discussion on ‘Athletics in the next decade: The success, the challenge and the road ahead’ with sports stalwarts of the country.

The esteemed panelists for this discussion included, Vishal K Dev, Secretary cum commissioner, Sports, Youth Services & Tourism Government of Odisha; Geoff Gardner, Vice President, World Athletics; Adille Sumariwala, Olympian, President – Athletics Federation of India; Anju Bobby George, Asian Games Gold Medalist; Anand Menezes, Olympian, Senior coach, Athletics Sports Department, Tata Steel and James Hillier, Head Coach – Reliance Foundation Athletics HPC, Odisha.

This webinar was organised as part of Tata Steel’s continuous efforts towards promotion of sports in India. The session delved on many insights on the future of athletics in India, the road map for the coming decade, preparing the ecosystem better for the challenges ahead and highlighted aspects that still need grassroot level attention. The Indian sports has come a long way and there have been many successes to rejoice as well.

The discussions also focused on ways to encourage local talent from grassroots communities join sports and make it more accessible to players across the country – all to enable a brighter future.

Vishal K Dev, Secretary cum commissioner, Sports, Youth Services & Tourism, Government of Odisha, said: “We have been focussed on developing the conducive ecosystems for sports. Day coaching programmes, coaching centres, scientific talent acquisition and the various MoUs signed recently are the steps taken towards building a sporting culture within the State. The Govt. of Odisha works very professionally and is making huge strides in building the infrastructure and bring the best of experts and professionals to set up the Sports Academies.”

Geoff Gardner, Vice President, World Athletics, said: “We at World Athletic Congress believe in encouraging governments across the globe of developing sporting culture. We also believe it is important to engage with the local talent and the communities there and inspire them to be a part of this sporting movement. We are collaborating with broadcasters globally to ensure they position these sporting events and the local athletes positively to inspire future young players to join the game. The digital technology has made it pretty accessible for everyone to watch the games which has helped us immensely; this has changed the way sports is consumed, watched and is more of entertainment now which has given a huge boost to the games and the athletes globally.”

Adille Sumariwala, Olympian, President, Athletics Federation of India, said, “Odisha has always had a great sporting background but what it lacked was the facilities and infrastructure. The way the State government has supported the cause of sports in the last few years is phenomenal and the professional approach adopted by them has given them great results. I am glad they have chosen the best of experts from around the world and not just from India to coach and consult about the various games and nurture local talent.”

Anju Bobby George, Asian Games Gold Medalist, said: “I feel overwhelmed when I see the amount of development that has happened in sports and the importance it has gained in recent years. We were not blessed with such facilities and things very not easily accessible. Our struggles were multifold and one had to sacrifice much more to be able to reach and participate in international sports events. I was one of the few lucky ones who had great support from my coaches and the authorities. Today, the way Odisha has developed a robust sporting ecosystem is noteworthy and I am confident it will become one of the greatest sporting hubs for India and hopefully one day we will be hosting the Olympics in Odisha.”

Anand Menezes, Olympian, Senior coach, Athletics Sports Dept. Tata Steel, said: “I think we are simply glad to see the commitment and the development that has happened in the State in the last few years, thanks to Tata Steel and the visionary efforts of the government. We are confident we will be seeing some of the greatest athletes from NTHA and from Odisha playing at international events very soon.”

James Hillier, Head Coach, Reliance Foundation Athletics HPC, Odisha, said “We set goals and common goals for the teams and track the progress of each of the athletes individually. The development we focus on is not just his or her performance in the game but also on the mental happiness, ability to focus on the games, on whether they are enjoying the coaching that they are receiving and gaining from it. We are targeted and focussed in everything we do, and follow strong communications as it is key to build a student and coach relationship.”

Tata Steel has been making relentless efforts to build a sporting culture locally and provide the right opportunities for
local talent to grow. Sports has been integral to Tata Steel’s philosophy of nation building. In India, Tata Steel spearheads
the corporate promotion of sports through its relentless and constant encouragement to professional sportspersons,
amateurs, and its own employees to pursue sports and excel. Tata Steel has been consistently involved in creating and
nurturing professional sportspersons through its academies and grassroots feeder centres.

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