Khelo India Youth Games, 2024: Govt. Initiative Empowering Young Athletes

With the intent to bring A-level sporting talent in India to global frontiers, Khelo India Youth Games is a pioneering government of India initiative. In a country with a growing sports sector, these games bring grassroots-level development of sports and athletes to the forefront. Etching the essence of sports and fitness in one’s life. Sports encourage an active lifestyle, develop discipline and routine, hone analytical thinking, and enhance a player’s leadership skills. Sports are a way to lead a healthy lifestyle and partake in the development of a strong nation. The games are here just to build this active lifestyle routine in the youth of the country.

India is home to a diverse range of indigenous and ancient games such as Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Mallakhamba, Thang-Ta, etc. Also, the country has enriched the world with yoga flow movements. Taking a cue from India’s culturally rich sport and fitness heritage, Khelo India Youth Games have the unique mission to build a sporting nation at the grassroots level. Reviving a culture of athletics and sports to build a foundation for India to become a sporting superpower.

The Mission of Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG)

KIYG was established with a mission to encourage and nurture sports talent in India across all walks of life. KIYG was launched in 2018 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Realizing the vast potential of the nation’s sports capabilities, the government of India introduced these games to:

a. Inspire young talent at the grassroots level,
b. Build local accessible sports infrastructure at par with global standards.
c. Scout and train young talented athletes to lead global sporting events for India
d. Revive the traditional and indigenous sports culture in India
e. Build and enhance a sports-inclusive education and skill-learning framework at the grassroots level

To achieve these, Sports Authority of India came into action and implemented the following verticals:

a. State-Level Khelo India centres
b. Annual Sports Competitions
c. Talent Search and Development
d. Sports for Women
e. Support to National/ Regional and State Sports Academics,
f. Promotions of Sports among persons with disabilities.
g. Physical fitness of school children
h. Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports implemented the following:

a. Play Field Development

b. Utilization and Creation/ Upgradation of Sports Infrastructure

c. Sports for Peace and Development

These initiatives were carefully designed and implemented by the two leading government authorities in India. These defined verticals aim to build an inclusive, diverse, and powerful nation of sports.

Khelo India Youth Games, 2024

Here are the details for the latest season of KIYG:

Dates: 19 – 31st January

Where: Tamil Nadu across four cities – Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, and Trichy
The games expect a participation of over 5,000 athletes in the upcoming 6th season of the games.
The games run in a team championship format. This means that each athlete or team win is counted under their state or union territory. The most wins under a state are declared the winner of the tournament.

KIYG 2023 was held in Madhya Pradesh where the state of Maharashtra was crowned as the champions. With a total of 56 gold medals, 55 silver medals and 50 bronze. Over 5000 athletes participated to compete for 973 medals across 27 sports.

An interesting fact about KIYG is that only Maharashtra and Haryana so far have won the championship title.

What Games Can One Expect at Khelo India Youth Games, 2024?

KIYG has engagement across 27 sports like Basketball, Badminton, Cricket, Judo, Volleyball, Football, Kho Kho, Weightlifting, Swimming, Hockey, Kabaddi, Shooting etc.
In late 2020, the KIYG also included a few indigenous games of Gatka, Kalaripayttu, Thang-Ta, and Mallakhamba.

As a demo sport for the season of 2024 games, Silambam, a form of Indian martial arts has been included in the KIYG.

Each sport has its dedicated talent scouting committee. They pick the top 2 sportspersons who gain access to an annual scholarship of INR 5,00,000 for 8 years.

Structure of the games

KIYG has two categories: under-17 and under-21. Both categories have a gender division further to offer equal opportunities. All sporting games under the KIYG follow an international standard for rules. That helps to offer the young talent a competitive environment in global professional sporting settings.

Impact and Significance of Khelo India Youth Games

With a mission to identify and nurture the sporting talent of India, KIYG has a profound influence on the nation’s youth and sporting culture. It is helping to:

1. Introduce talented athletes at international competitions

Aspiring young athletes across districts and states have access to a budding sports career. With KIYG serving as a launching platform for young talent, they gain access to global standards of training. Access and exposure to scholarships and professional scouts. Many state and national level leagues are scouting for talent at these games to sign professional contracts. With professional training, these athletes are known to represent India at international sporting competitions.

2. Increasing employment opportunities at state and regional levels

KIYG brings with it local infrastructure development and management. With the need for professional talent scouts, trainers, sports experts, facilities, and operations managers. The games are not simply offering the young sporting talent a platform, it is also bringing new employment opportunities across the nation.

3. Promote gender equality at the grassroots level

One of the key implementation aspects under the Sports Authority of India is Sports for Women. Each game under the KIYG has a women’s division where equal opportunities are offered to female athletes. Helping to inculcate a spirit of gender equality at the grassroots level. Becoming a medium that represents women’s empowerment in true essence.

4. Inclusivity and diversity in games

A key aspect of KIYG that Sports Authority of India implements is:

– Promotions of Sports among persons with disabilities, and

– Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games.

The inclusion of 4 indigenous games already and another one as a demo sport for the upcoming 2024 season reflects the diverse nature of KIYG.

In December 2023, Khelo India Para Games were launched in New Delhi for disabled athletes. 7 different sports were played. These sports were: Athletics, Shooting, Archery, Football, Badminton, Table Tennis, and Weightlifting. The Khelo India Para Games are uniquely crafted under the TOPS scheme, which is to bring para-athletes to the Olympic stage for international competition.

We can gauge the impact of the Khelo India Youth Games with a year-by-year increase in several sports and athlete participation. The games have become catalysts of change offering grassroots-level athletes opportunities to grow, nurture their skills, and win global accolades. The continuous commitment of the government to its sports policy framework has also ignited the participation of the private sector in building various sports leagues and developing sporting infrastructure, offering new employment opportunities. Proving the transformative nature of Khelo India Youth Games in bringing change to India’s sports culture.

The Khelo India Youth Games will be telecasted on DD Sports TV channel and the live broadcast can be seen on the DD Sports YouTube Channel.

Author: Mankiran