Panaji: Govind Gaude, the Sports Minister of Goa, delivered the keynote address at the Sportstar Sports Conclave in Goa recently.
He said he prides himself on how the state managed to pull off a successful National Games in 2023. “To host the 37th National Games was a dream for every Goan. Every national athlete was looking forward to participating in Goa. We had sleepless nights ahead of the competition. There needs to be meticulous planning to organise an event like this. We had given our best to deliver the best hospitality to our players. And they were all happy—even players who have represented India in multi-discipline events like the Asian Games.”
Goa finished ninth in the home edition of the Games, 21 places better than its result in 2022. What was more striking about the performances was the medal count, which changed drastically over the turn of the season. In 2022, Goa won a total of five bronze medals. In 2023, the number of medals magically went up to 92 (27 gold, 27 silver and 38 bronze)!
Although the competition to get to the top has become tighter with each passing day, Gaude believes sports athletes are blessed with better infrastructure nowadays. He said, “We have to tackle every difficulty. If you go 30–40 years back in time, there was no proper infrastructure in the country, but India was shining across the globe.”
Infighting within sporting federations, says Gaude, often hampers the growth of fresh talent. He said, “There are a lot of politics in associations and federations. The news media must help out here. In every federation, there is a quarrel. We are spoiling the lives of the athletes by doing these.”
The selection of athletes should be unbiased and solely based on merit, Gaude stressed. “Let’s keep politics aside. We must come together to help sports grow. I have never asked associations to favour anybody. Selection has to happen on the basis of merit. We are giving the best services to our Goans. The government organisations and clubs need to work together.”
Gaude thanked the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for promoting sports extensively in the country. ”Our PM, Shri Narendra Modi, has been very supportive. Wherever he is in the world, he is spreading the message of the importance of sports. Even in the National Education Policy, sportspersons and ‘art and culture’ people have been given due recognition.”
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, Goa Tourism, Indian Oil, Geno Sports Club, KSG India, State Bank of India, KPMG, Great SportsTech, Casagrand, and NewsX.