Bathinda: The local Shaheed Bhagat Singh stadium today witnessed a spectacular start of one of the biggest sporting extravaganza of the country, ‘Khedan Watan Punjab Dian’- season II as the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, inaugurated this mega sporting event here on Tuesday.
The Chief Minister took salute from the impressive march past of the participating contingents of various districts. Announcing the opening of this around two months long much awaited gala sporting event, Bhagwant Singh Mann envisioned that this will act as a catalyst to restore the pristine glory of the state in fields of state. He said that it is a humble initiative of the state government to channel the unbounded energy of youth in a positive direction.
The Chief Minister said that the renowned players for the state are carrying the torch of the games in the relay at the stadium. He said that this torch had travelled across the state in all the 23 districts where a large number of youth and players had participated in the run. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the torch relay had received an overwhelming response across the state.
The Chief Minister said that as paddy is transplanted in the fields and then it is harvested after hard work in the same manner these games are plantation which will give rich dividends in the coming times. He said that his predecessors had never paid attention towards development of sports due to which Punjab lagged behind in this arena. Bhagwant Singh Mann quipped that though the Finance Minister was from this region only but his rhetoric of empty exchequer ruined the state whereas same finances are being used for well being of every strata of society.
The Chief Minister said that the Indian Hockey squad that had brought medal for the country will soon be given jobs. He said that all the hiccups have been already removed and now these nine players will be given jobs as per their eligibility. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that they are assets of country and will be preserved well for the country adding he expressed hope that they will win Gold medal in Asian games.
The Chief Minister said as sports had gone in wrong hands so it has adversely effected the promotion of games. He said that the unfortunate controversy over the wrestling federation in the country is proof of that. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that Punjab will never see such controversies as sports is top priority of his government to carve out Rangla Punjab.
The Chief Minister said that the first edition of the Khedan Watan Punjab Dian organized last year by the state government had got a major response from the people. He said that it is a matter of great pride and satisfaction that in this mega event more than three lakh players had participated in different six age groups. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that these players have participated in various competitions from block to the state level in 30 sports categories and they were given cash prizes worth Rs 6 crore.
The Chief Minister said that this year 35 competitions will be held in eight age groups adding that for the first time Rugby, Cycling, Horse Riding, Wushu and Shooting Volleyball have been introduced in the games. He said that the competitions will be held in the age groups of under 14, under 17, Under 21, 21-30 years, 31-40 years, 41-55 years, 56-65 years and above 65 years age group. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that players will be given cash prizes of Rs 7 crore including RS 10,000 for gold, Rs 7000 for silver and Rs 5000 for bronze medal winners.
The Chief Minister said that the season II of this game is commencing from today adding that as a part of this sporting extravaganza block level games will be held from August 31 to September 9. Likewise, he said that district level competitions will be held from September 26 to October 5 and state level competitions will be held from October 10 to 25. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the state level competitions will be held in every district of the state to promote sporting culture.
The Chief Minister further said that these games are a right step towards this direction as they are providing a platform to the players for showcasing their talent. Bhagwant Singh Mann asserted that these games will also help the state government to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the players which will be beneficial for grooming them for the national and international events in future. He further said that the state government is leaving no stone unturned to popularize sports in the state as it can play a key role in progress of the state and prosperity of its people.
Reiterating the firm commitment of the state government to promote sports in the state, the Chief Minister said that from today the state government is embarking on a campaign to disburse Rs 5.94 crore to 1807 players. He said that this prize money had been pending from the last five years as successive state governments had paid no heed to give this money to the players. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the state government has felicitated 23 players for bringing laurels for the state in Birmingham Commonwealth games with a cash prize of Rs 9.30 crore adding that players bagging medals in national games have also been given Rs 7 crore as cash prize.
The Chief Minister said that the state government has introduced a new sports policy that envisages encouraging all citizens to adopt an active lifestyle, motivating all children to come to play/run and restoring Punjab's glory in Sports at national and international levels. He said that for this pyramidal sports infrastructure will be developed with playgrounds in every village/ locality, sports nurseries at village cluster level within 4km of every home, well equipped District Spots Complexes with Hostels for players and centres of excellence at State Level. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that policy also lays thrust on identifying talent in sports at grass root level and train it in a scientific manner and to provide assistance to prepare budding players for National and International level events including para and specially-abled sportspersons.
The Chief Minister said that for the first time the policy has covered Olympics/ Asian/ Commonwealth games along with the 35 games of the gradation list. Likewise, he said that in order to recognize the immense contribution of coaches in sports, the Balbir Singh Senior award for coaches has been institutionalized. Bhagwant Singh Mann further said that for the promotion of sporting activity Milkha Singh Award will be given to the sports promoters.
Similarly, the Chief Minister said that to encourage the budding sports players Balbir Singh Senior scholarship scheme has been started. He said that as a part of this sports policy for the first time the state government is giving Rs 8 lakh per player to nearly 50 players who are preparing to take part in the Asian games slated to be held in China. Bhagwant Singh Mann announced to extend every possible support to the players for promotion of sporting activity in the state.
The Chief Minister said that as runways at the airports facilitate an Airplane for its smooth take off in the same manner the state government is helping the youth to realize their dreams. He asserted that every effort is being made to give wings to the ideas of youth and no stone is being left unturned for this noble cause. Bhagwant Mann made a fervent appeal to youth to make all out efforts for carving an identity of their own to make a place in society adding that sky's the limit for them.
The Chief Minister said that earlier in names of promotion of sports funds were showered on the stars of tinsel world. However, he said that now his nationalist government is promoting the sports especially in form of local sports during the event. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that Punjabis had brought freedom for country, safeguarded its borders, made country self reliant in food production and even bringing medals in arena of sports.
Congratulating the Sports Minister for organizing these games, the Chief Minister said that Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer deserves kudos for making all these arrangements. He said that it is a matter of great pride for the entire state that these games are being held in every nook and corner of Punjab. Bhagwant Mann said that these games will be made a regular feature in the coming years too.
The Chief Minister also remembered the hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand on his birth anniversary. He said that this is observed as national sports day. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the youth must take inspiration from the hockey legend on this day.
Earlier, the Sports Minister Punjab Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer welcomed the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on the occasion.
Meanwhile, cultural performances by the school kids mesmerized the audience with their dazzling performance. Leading Punjabi singers Harvi, KKarma, Darshanjit, Yasir Hussain, Harjit Harman and Kulwinder Billa entertained the audience. Multi sports show by the students from Patiala and PT show by school students added zing to the inaugural event. The tug of war between two teams also displayed the strength and vitality of the youth of state. Impressive display of martial art Gatka was another star attraction.
On the occasion the impressive theme song accompanied by the traditional dance ‘Giddha’ and ‘Bhangra’ enthralled the audience and forced them to tap their feet. Likewise the gathering also cheered the medley performance of students during the inaugural function in the stadium. The gathering also gave a standing ovation to the dazzling firework show on the occasion.
Prominent amongst others present on the occasion included Cabinet Ministers Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, Chetan Singh Jouremajra, Aman Arora, Dr Balbir Singh, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, Dr Baljit Kaur, Gurmeet Singh Khudian, Brahm Shanker Jimpa and others were also present.