'Corporate sector is eager to support sports but they should be given the assurance that their money is going in right hands.'
Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore says the corporate sector is very much willing to support development of sports and athletes in India but it needs to be given the assurance that the money is going in right hands.
Rathore, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist in shooting, said the need of the hour is that the National Sports Federations (NSFs) bring about transparency in their functioning.
"Corporate sector is eager to support sports but they should be given the assurance that their money is going in right hands. Transparency and accountability is the must, " Rathore said.
"Raising funds should not be exclusive to us. We are always there to help whenever needed but we want them to become financially independent. Corporates are ready to invest but they (NSFs) should ensure transparency and accountability," he added.
When asked if it means that ministry is planning to cut off or reduce the grants given to NSFs, he replied in negative.
"I never said that. They can raise funds despite getting government grants. Both are not exclusive to each other. It's high time that they should take initiatives to raise money on their own. Sports like wrestling, hockey and badminton are generating money through various leagues but we are funding them," said the celebrated shooter.
Being the first sportsman to become sports minister expectations are high from him and he wants to take all stake-holders along.
"Indian athletes carry the expectations of the whole nation. The prestige of the country is at stake when they enter field hence all the stake-holders should work together for the betterment of sports and sports-persons. I know them for many years and all are good friends. I am sure we will work together to make India sporting power," he said when asked about the relation between ministry and IOA.
He did not elaborate on the proposed changes in National Sports Development Code but indicated that the system is going in for a complete overhaul.
"We are in process of changing the way of functioning on the go. We are taking policy decisions in minutes. Earlier project officers or under secretaries, without having knowledge of sports, used to deal with sport bodies but we are changing that. Decisions will be taken by those who understand sports. We even want to outsource our academies," Rathore said.
He also said that government does not want to interfere in the operational part but want professionalism in sports administration.
"We have successfully organised khelo India games in a short span. It's not like that that we can't run the sports in the country but we don’t want to do that. We have our hands full .Whoever runs the sport be it professionals, NSFs or private partners , the approach should be professional," said Rathore.
Asia Cup cricket is going to be held in India from 15 – 30 September this year and Pakistan is one of the six participants. When asked if the neighbouring country will be given permission to play in India, he did not give any direct reply.
"Yeh to Samay hi bataega (only time will tell )."
"As far as politics in sports federations is concerned, it should be away but finally sport is one of the soft power projections in the country and players are representative of a country," he said when asked about being a sportsperson himself, doesn’t he think that sports should be kept away from politics .
"He did not give any number when asked about how many medals he expects from Indian contingent in upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
"It is for the experts who select teams for the games to comment on expected medal tally but we have not let any stone unturned as far as preparations are concerned. Now being a sportsman also I want them to give their best keeping the training in mind. Players and officials should also know that discipline and fairplay is paramount as they are the ambassadors of the country ," said the minister.
He admits the pressure of expectations is high on him but he is confident of making a change.
"It is good for sporting fraternity that one amongst them has got the opportunity . Together we will show that a player can provide smooth administration as well. This opportunity should be given to them in NSFs also. Right combination is needed," he added.