With an aim to fulfill India's aspirations of making a mark in international sports arena, the Army has conceptualised a three-phased programme which would eventually see a steady flow of talent from 2010 onwards in 10 different sports disciplines, chief of Army Staff General J J Singh said.
"Historically, the Army has been in the forefront of the sporting activities and now has once again renewed its focus to achieve the dream of the nation to make a mark in international sporting meets," Gen Singh said after formally inaugurating the Army Sports Institute in Pune on Saturday.
The inauguration of the Army Sports Institute, the only one of its kind in the country, is a step towards achieving the dream of being the best in the world, he said.
The three-phased programme of the Army aims initially to achieve respectable levels in Asian and Commonwealth Games, then focus on doing well in the Olympic Games and finally create a steady flow of talent who can win medals for the country in the Olympics thereafter, Gen Singh said.
Adjunct to its 'Mission Olympics', the Army is in the process of raising 10 boys companies to be trained in various sports disciplines and for subsequent enlistment in its ranks. They have also launched a "Catch Them Young" scheme for sports enthusiasts between the age group of 14 to 16."
Already, a pilot project of "Catch Them Young" has been launched in Delhi, Singh said adding, of the 48 chosen under this scheme, four of them have been selected to represent the Delhi state teams in different disciplines.
Veteran sportspersons Milkha Singh, Shriram Singh and G S Randhawa have been co-opted to work as consultants and advisors to the scheme, he said.
Later, addressing a press conference, the Army chief denied that shortage of ammunition was hampering training of shooters.
"We have good potential in the disciplines of shooting and archery. The Army which had earlier produced Olympians in hockey can still do it. We are looking for natural talents to groom them to become potential medal winners."
"As the Adivasis of Bihar are good in hockey, we have laid out an astro turf in Danapur and are looking for budding talents in this discipline. Likewise as the hill tribes of Manipur, Assam, Sikkim are good in football, efforts would be made to attract them to the sport to which they are naturally inclined," he said.
The chief of Army Staff expressed confidence that the government would continue to support its initiative in the field of sports and also the Army Mission Olympic.
The Army Sports Institute, constructed at a cost of Rs 32 crore, is one of the most modern and well-equipped institutes in the country.
It has a world class sports infrastructure for training in archery, athletics, boxing, diving, wrestling and weight-lifting and has fully furnished boarding, lodging and messing facilities for 200 sportspersons.