Inaugurating the revamped Khelo India School Games here on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was the first step towards making the country a strong contender at the Olympic level.A revamped version of the original National School Games, Khelo India is an U-17 event which will feature only 16 disciplines which have been identified as most likely to win medals at the Olympic Games."The best athletes will be given the best training and the best coaches. If needed we will send them abroad for better training," Modi said at the launch of the tournament.The best 1,000 athletes at the Khelo India Games will get scholarship of Rs 5 lakh every year for a period of eight years."This is to ensure that sportspersons from poor backgrounds are not forced to give up sports due to lack of funds," the Prime Minister said.The events at the week-long inaugural edition will be archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, football, gymnastics, hockey, judo, kabaddi, kho-kho, shooting, swimming, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling.
"Sports must be given as much importance as academics. Earlier, if a student was good in studies, he was discouraged from taking up sports. We want to change the attitude of parents towards sports and encourage their children to become athletes," Modi said.Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said on the occassion that Khelo India will prove to be a game-changer for Indian sports."This U-17 event will take place every year and will be broadcast live on television. From now on, the children who are selected from their respective schools should have the confidence that they can become world champions one day. We want to change the very attitude of upcoming generations of sportspersons," Rathore said."We are targetting the Olympic Games of 2024 and 2028," he added."The 1,000 athletes who will be selected each year will be nurtured for eight years. We nee to strengthen our sports culture."A total of 199 gold, 199 silver and 275 bronze medals will be up for grabs at the inaugural Khelo India Games.