Innovation, Collaboration & Technology will play a key role in reviving Sports Ecosystem: Odisha Sports Minister  

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Bhubaneswar: Today, in an interaction, over video-conferencing with Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, and Youth Affairs and Sports Ministers and senior officials of other States and Union Territories, Odisha Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera laid emphasis on the significant role that Innovation, Collaboration, and Technology can play in reviving the Sports ecosystem. He shared the initiatives that the Odisha Government had undertaken to resume sports in the State and, being a Sports hub, the possible way forward for its authorities and stakeholders to adopt.

reviving Sports EcosystemShri Behera shared, “Today, owing to the unprecedented Coronavirus crisis, Sports fraternities across the nation are in a constant dilemma regarding the uncertain future. However, the recent relaxation by Central Govt. and guidelines laid down by SAI has brought in some positivity for all stakeholders The Sports Sector has to treat this as an opportunity to innovate, to rethink policies and to reassess priorities. Best practices from across the world are being considered to chart a course ahead.”

He further listed, as below, the initiatives adopted by the State to facilitate a partial but safe resumption of sporting activities.

  • We have issued detailed SOP as per the guidelines of the Central Government across our Sports Facilities.
  • Elite athletes have resumed training at the Kalinga stadium and we have planned resumption of training across Sports complex and facilities, in a phased manner.
  • Currently, all Covid-19 protocols are being followed during coaching, including daily thermal screening and periodic sanitisation of play field/pitch and residential complexes.
  • For Swimming, we are resorting to strength and conditioning training.
  • Sports hostel inmates are benefitting from webinars and personal guidance from coaches on mental and physical conditioning.
  • Coaches are being aligned with SAI and other educative sessions through the online medium.

Deliberating on the way forward for the resumption of Sports, Shri Behera, shared his views, as listed below, on how the State plans to reorient its strategy and strengthen the sports scenario across districts to benefit the sportspersons and the sports lovers of the State.

  • In the future, certain elements of sports training that can continue to happen online, and can be offered to trainees and sportspersons through different models will get integrated into the training regime. Technologywill play a key role in reducing operation costs and enhance knowledge sharing.
  • The Sports events scenario is gradually opening up in the State. FIFA has announced the dates for FIFA U 17 Women’s World Cup in Feb-March 2021. We will work closely with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the tournament and implement strictest of safety norms.
  • It is paramount that we prioritise the health of our athletes and sports staff and adhere to precautionary measures and guidelines hence, going forward, maximum health protocols will be ensured.
  • Administration will develop comprehensive event and venue health and safety guidelines for all involved in such sports events. This will include facilitating sanitisation by-laws, upgrading building guidelines and incorporating social distancing norms, which could be added to venue house rules and contracts.
  • In addition, we may have to accept closed stadia as the new normal. We foresee a transformation in sports broadcasting and consumption of sports content in the future. Technology and Content on OTT platforms will play a crucial role in engaging and entertaining the fans through digital innovation.
  • Since Sports remains a priority sector we will continue to develop and strengthen our Sports Infrastructure to make sports inclusive and accessible to all.
    • Several key projects, including the development and renovation of pitches for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup have resumed. The Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 is ahead and our work towards it has commenced.
    • We will be also coming up with our final facilities of some of our High Performance Centres.
    • We are also renovating our sports hostel and restructuring disciplines across them.
  • We continue to evaluate the on-ground situation and are trying to generate awareness on the importance of integrating education and sports in addition to capacity building and skill development of physical education teachers.
  • The unique model adopted by Odisha to setup High Performance Centres could become a strong solution for the future with more support of public and private sector bodies which can be adapted for grassroots and indigenous sports development too.
  • We are building a set of webinars in tandem with the HPCs to spread the HPC philosophy across all ecosystem stakeholders, and in the process, carrying out a consolidation exercise and establishing a strong channel of communication from grassroots to elite

He concluded, “The way ahead is unclear and it is going to be the administrators, policy makers, sports federations and other stakeholders who have to deliberate, step up and take a lead to usher in a new era in Sports.”

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