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SAG Scheme aims to Scout Nurture talent from Rural areas

Executive Director Operations of Sports Authority of India SAI Hira Ballabh Joshi says that there are 19 SAG Centres in the country especially in rural and tribal areas and trainees from these Centres are excelling at domestic and International level

Hira Ballabh Joshi
Executive Director, Sports Authority of India

What are the objectives of Special Area Games(SAG) Scheme?

The SAG Scheme aims at scouting natural talent for modern competitive sports and games from inaccessible tribal, rural and coastal areas of the country and nurturing them scientifically for achieving excellence in sports. The Scheme also envisages tapping of talent from indigenous games and martial arts and also from regions/ communities, which are either genetically or geographically advantageous for excellence in a particular sports discipline. The main objective of the Scheme is to train meritorious sports persons in the age group of 12-18 years, with age being relaxed in exceptional cases.

How many Centres have been established so far under the Scheme?

At present, there are 19 Centres in the country having a total strength of 1760 trainees including 777 girls. Broadly these Centres are categorised into five- Eastern, Kerala, North Eastern( Imphal), Regional Centre( Guwahati) and Central. Centres are both Residential and Non-Residential. Focus in on residential training and we have 1616 trainees as residential. Eastern Region has highest number of Centres, that is eight. We are focusing on rural sports talent. For example we have set up Centre in Bihar at Kishanganj for Volleyball and Giddaur for Athletics, Football and Volleyball. To tap tribal talent we have Centres at Jagatpur and Sundergarh in Odisha.

Do States fund the Centres?

Though Sports is in State list, under this Scheme, Centres are started in consultation with the State Governments/ UT Administration with infrastructure like playing fields, indoor halls equipment support/ coaches etc. entirely funded by SAI/ Sports Ministry.

What are the disciplines covered under the Scheme?

There are many disciplines, 26 to be precise. Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Karate, Kayaking, Netball, Rowing, Sepaktakraw, Shooting, Swimming, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling and Wushu have been covered under the SAG Scheme.

How do you select the trainees ?

Selection of trainees is done on performance basis.Trainees who are medal winners in state/national level competitions are automatically admitted into the Scheme subject to their being medically fit. Trainees who are medal winners at the district level competition and other identified competition are admitted subject to their performance/selection trails. All the trainees are admitted to are fit medically and on clearing the battery of tests.

How was the journey so far ?

Very successful. Trainees of these Centres have brought medals and accolade from international competitions. Prominent names like Baichung Bhutia and Mary Kom among others are products of such Centres. Since the SAG Scheme of SAI is specially focused to scout and nurture sports talent from amongst the rural and tribal areas, we are very hopeful to get many more sports persons with natural talent and scientifically trained from these Centres who will excel at international level in times to come. 

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