Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday highlighted Khelo India’s contribution in helping Indian athletes to prepare for international competitions like the Olympics and Asian Games, saying the programme is currently training almost 15000 players in different academies.

“Khelo India was started in 2017 and when it was planned, it started off to provide a good platform for the youth to play sports. Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi started this and we are watching the success of it. Khelo India has become the biggest event in India with thousands of people participating in the games,” Rijiju said while speaking to Star Sports about the importance of KIYG as a platform for youngsters.

“The games are almost parallel with the Olympics in terms of size. Khelo India Youth Games has become a platform for youth who are in sports and is a preparation for Olympics, Asian Games and other international tournaments.

“After identifying children from various age groups, we provide professional training to these group of kids.

“Today, we are training almost 15000 players in different academies which are accredited under ‘Khelo India’.

“In India’s history, there are very few programmes like the ‘Khelo India Youth Games’ which have achieved the success of this stature,” he said.

The sports minister also highlighted the shift in the mindset of parents in allowing their children to take up sports.

“Families are now coming forward to put their children into sports and this change which is taking place right now is really great for the country.

“In places like Delhi, children are running, playing in the park and in the rural areas as well – children indulge in cycling or boxing – and are playing sports according to their own interest.

“As a result, India is making its presence internationally in sports and at the same time fitness is growing as a culture in the Indian society. I believe, sports and fitness are a necessity for not only our society but also for every country.

“I am personally very satisfied with the initiative of the ‘Khelo India Youth Games’ which our Prime Minister has introduced.”

Rijiju also spoke on sports being made a part of the school curriculum.

“Sports is a part of education. By excelling in sports, you get admission in schools and colleges. When sports are a part of the school curriculum, the children themselves will consider it as a part of their academics.

“Secondly, sports are a part of the Indian culture. To cultivate a sporting culture in the country, sports should be a part of the school curriculum and not be an extra-curricular activity. In the latest education ministers conference, I focused on how sports are no longer an extra-curricular activity but a part of the curriculum itself. Sports is a way of life now.”