Sports infrastructure plays a crucial role in achieving excellence in the global arena of sports. It not only helps in producing sportspersons of international repute, but also encourages the youth population of a country to participate in sporting activities to create a culture of sports. In India, the standard of sports infrastructure is not at a satisfactory level for a number of reasons.
The lack of infrastructural facilities is one of the major impediments in the process of development of sports in India. The objective of this article is to analyze the present state of sports infrastructure of the country and propose a possible road map for its development.
In recent years, a phenomenal growth has been observed in Indian sports with the staging of mega-events such as the Commonwealth Games 2010, Hockey World Cup and Cricket World Cup, and the winning of medals in the international competitions.
India won a total of six medals in the 2012 London Olympics, including two silver and four bronze. The success of Sushil Kumar, Abhinav Bindra, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza has already established the country on the global sports map.
The continued success of Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa has created a prominent position for India in the discipline of golf. In cricket, India has already emerged as a superpower due to its excellence in sporting and commercial performance.
A number of schemes have been introduced to promote sports at the grass-root level. PYKKA is one of them.
Despite all these successes, it is pertinent to mention that the sports infrastructure in India is still not at the desired level, and this creates an obstacle in developing sports in the country.
In the next section of this article, a critical evaluation will be made of the initiatives adopted to build and sustain sports infrastructure in India.
1982 was a significant year in the history of sports in India when the country organized the Asian Games for the second time. Prior to that, hardly any emphasis was given to sports in the public policy arena.
The following table represents the fund allocation to sports in different Five- Year Plans since 1982:
Five Year Plans
Duration of the Five Year Plans
Allocation to sports (INR Million)
Sixth Five Year Plan
Seventh Five Year Plan
Eighth Five Year Plan
Ninth Five Year Plan
Tenth Five Year Plan
Eleventh Five Year Plan
A significant increase can be observed in the fund allocation to sports in various Five- Year Plans, most of which was allocated for developing infrastructure for sports. Some of the initiatives, adopted for the development of sports, are mentioned below:
- Scheme of Grants for Creation of Sports Infrastructure including Rural Schools, for which INR 942.5 million was allocated
- Scheme of Grants for Installing of Synthetic Playing Surfaces, for which INR 201.3 million was allocated
- Scheme of Grants for Promotion of Games and Sports in Universities and Colleges, for which INR 328 million was allocated
- Schemeof assistance for the creation of Urban Sports infrastructure
These initiatives are not sufficient to promote sports through the provision of sports infrastructure. In the next section of this article, the problems relating to the development of sports infrastructure in India will be explained.
According to the Constitution of India, sport is a state subject. The state governments in India allocate funds for developing sports and sports infrastructure as per their priority list. There is no unique approach in developing sports infrastructure throughout the country.
The support from the central government was substantially withdrawn with the shift of the schemes, related to sports infrastructure, to the states in the Tenth Five Year Plan. This has created a further obstacle.
The non-availability of land for building sports infrastructure is another major impediment. Moreover, not much initiative has been observed til now in promoting sports-specific infrastructure by adopting PPP model to ensure the sustainability of these facilities.
The commercial aspects for generating revenue from these infrastructures have not been explored. These are some of the major impediments in building and sustaining sports infrastructure in India.
The steps that may be adopted to solve the problems of developing sports infrastructure in India are mentioned below:
- To arrange a dedicated land bank for building sports infrastructure
- To adopt PPP model in which the government will provide institutional and financial support for building infrastructure and the private sector will manage and maintain its operations
- To introduce various commercial aspects, such as selling the Naming Rights, Hospitality Packages and branding inside the stadiums, to make these facilities sustainable
- To use these facilities for multiple purposes, such as organizing exhibitions, conferences or for setting up sports academies
- To make these infrastructural facilities open for the use of the public against membership fees
The above solutions may help in overcoming the obstacles India aces in the area of sports infrastructure. However, a change in the mind-set of the decision makers in sports, politics and related fields is a prerequisite for implementing the solutions.
It is a pity that a majority of children going to school in India do not get the opportunity to take part in sports due to the lack of infrastructure or even open spaces. Who will solve this? A joint effort is needed. We all are waiting for a change in mindset for improving sports in the country.
Ankan Banerjee is a member of the faculty at the Naval Tata Centre of Excellence in Sports Management, IISWBM, Kolkata, India. He has contributed articles to the Sport Digest in the past. He can be reached at email@example.com.