New Delhi: With an aim of producing more Olympic medallists in India, the sports ministry and FICCI joined hands to chalk out a plan wherein youngsters can be given a sense of security to pursue sport as a full-time career.

The government and FICCI initiatives were unveiled on Thursday at the two-day 'TURF 2012', fourth Global Sports Summit.

Addressing the summit, deputy chief minister and minister of sports of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal said for youngsters to take up sports as full-time career, the mindset has to change.

"We do not have a plan or target for sports and it is not a priority in our country. There is no sense of security attached to a career in sports. We first need to change the mindset and see sports as a lucrative and successful full-time career option. To encourage students and parents, we must recognise sports as a worthwhile activity," said Badal.

Among those who pursue sports education in the form of Bachelors and Masters degree in Physical Education, as high as 85 per cent of them are unable to pursue a career in sports because of lack of required skills, facilities for higher learning, global exposure and non-availability of options other than teaching physical education at primary or secondary levels.

Onkar Kedia, Joint Secretary, Sports Ministry, underlined the fact that currently India's expenditure on sports is a mere two per cent and per capita expenditure is two paisa per day.

He said this figure needed to be increased so that budding athletes are encouraged.

"If we want to make our presence felt in the international arena then this percentage must rise to five. We need to change the sporting culture in the country and encourage students to take up sports as a career," said Kedia.

"The Government is also helping elite sportspersons like P T Usha to set up training academies. It is time that we join hands with the private sector and set up sports institutes."

The Chairman of FICCI Sports Committee Aloke Malik said it was important to identify some focus areas and work on those by involving the private sector.

"The focus areas for TURF 2012 is legacy planning of sports infrastructure; institutional capacity building; Soccer development and sustainable investment in sports: creating value for all," said Malik, who is also MD, ESPN Star Sports (India).

"With the already identified need for more meticulously planned development and maintenance of sports infrastructure in the country, the significance of involving private sector is top of the agenda," he added.

(Agencies)

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