A true game-changer,’ Top Indian Athletes Hail Khelo India’s Financial Incentive Schemes -

A true game-changer,’ Top Indian Athletes Hail Khelo India’s Financial Incentive Schemes

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Sports Authority of India released a total Rs 31 Crores Out of Pocket Allowance (OPA) for Khelo India Athletes in FY 2023-24

Khel Today Bureau 

New Delhi: The government’s Khelo India mission has been a game-changer for hundreds of athletes from across the country. From providing basic things like kits and a playing ground, Khelo India has helped needy families from looking at the brighter side of life. Effectively, some of the Khelo India athletes have conquered odds and gone on to become champions.

As an addition to the various scheme already in operation, a total of Rs. 31 Crore was recently released as an Out-of-Pocket Allowance (OPA) for Khelo India Athletes (KIAs) by the Sports Authority of India for the financial year 2023-24.

Top athletes like world champion archers Aditi Gopichand Swami and Ojas Pravin Deotale are excited.

Recently, the government announced that athletes who perform well in the various Khelo India Games like the youth Games or University Games, will be eligible for jobs. The OPA now comes as an additional incentive.

Hangzhou Asian Games compound archers and world champions Aditi and Deotale are beneficiaries of various Khelo India schemes. Aditi, hailing from Maharashtra, said, “I come from Satara which is a small city and the money I’ve received from the Khelo India Scheme over the years has helped me improve manifold. The financial backing has been one of the most integral reasons for who I am today.”

Ojas Deotale, who has been a Khelo India Athlete since 2023, said: “For me, besides opening up the opportunity to play in so many international tournaments, the main support from the Khelo India scheme has been the financial one. There are a lot of talented youngsters who cannot make it big due to not having money. Therefore, this support comes as a relief not only for others but also for me. Khelo India has always been with me,” the triple gold medallist from the Hangzhou Games, said.

As part of long-term Khelo India developmental programmes, close to 3000 athletes are provided an out-of-pocket allowance of Rs 1,20,000 per annum per athlete. In addition, Rs 5 Lakh is spent on each athlete towards training and competition.

A multiple national record holder at the Khelo India Youth Games, weightlifter L Dhanush from Chennai also regards the financial support to be a gamechanger not just for him but also his family as a whole. “I became a part of the scheme in 2021 following the Youth Games in Panchkula. The money helps us a lot in terms of diet, kits facilities, going for international competitions, travelling through train or flight and so on,” the Chennai based weightlifter said.

Recalling how he used the money after receiving it back in 2021, Dhanush said, “There were a lot of financial problems at home but when I first received the stipend, my dad was very happy. My sister, who is also a national player, got a lot of help in her competition from diet to kits.”

Captain of the India Junior Hockey team for the 2023 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Uttam Singh, one of the other prominent Khelo India athletes, said: “We had no money initially to get sticks, shoes and kits – a stick used to come for Rs 12000 and we could not afford. My family situation was very bad because nobody was working at home and my father was a farmer. It was very struggling for everyone. Slowly, after I got into the Khelo India Scheme in 2022, situations started changing.

“From conducting various trials to getting us placed in different National Centres of Excellence (NCoEs), be it in Bengaluru or Lucknow or Bhopal, we are also getting the best of training for the coaches. SAI and Khelo India have been helping us a lot.

“The government has facilitated us in every way and the monetary support helps our families as well. All these have happened only because I have been a part of the game,” Uttam, hailing from Karampur village in Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh, added.

 

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