Remarks by Amb Sibi George at the launch of Indian Sports Network
Launch of Indian Sports Network (ISN) on April 6, 2021
Esteemed Guests of today’s event, my friends from Media, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very Good Afternoon to all of you.
I begin by thanking His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for hosting the large Indian community in Kuwait and for their leadership in strengthening the bilateral relations between our two friendly countries.
I commend the sports lovers of India in Kuwait for joining hands with us to launch the Indian Sports Network in Kuwait. In fact, this platform was one of the demands by a large number of sports enthusiasts in Kuwait. Sports is in the blood of Indians, whether they are in India or abroad. I am so happy to see the enthusiasm maintained here in Kuwait even in the middle of the difficulties that we face due to unprecedented Covid 19 pandemic. We have regular cricket matches going on, we have regular badminton sessions going on, we have golf and many other outdoor and indoor sports taking place across the country.
Almost every Indian has a story to tell about his experience and experiments with sports. I had my days as a Pole Vault athlete, travelling across my State from one stadium to another running, jumping and winning prizes. My wife has a story of being the leader of the school band and a basketball player; Madam Mamta, who is present here, has the story of playing cricket against New Zealand and West Indies. We have many stories of Indian athletes and sportswomen and men here in Kuwait. I urge them to come forward and share their stories with us. Our children in schools have many sports success stories to share. Let’s celebrate our stories together. I may not be able to jump pole vault over a four meter high bar today, but I cannot deny the values of self-discipline, sportsman spirit, team spirit and the energy that I imbibed during my days as a sportsman.
Your stories are inspiration to the young generation; it can be our contribution to Fit India and Khelo India and to keep ourselves fit through regular fitness exercises or our traditional yoga which is very important particularly in this complex world of competition, to address the challenges of stress, strain and even immunity issues posed by Covid 19. It also helps us to develop team spirit and build mutually beneficial partnerships.
I recall the words of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who said, I quote: “Sports should be an integral part of our everyday life. Some people think that sports is important only for physical well-being, I feel sports is important for overall development of an individual. We are a large and diverse nation. Sports can be a great means of national integration. From sports, we learn sportsman spirit and that acts as a lubricant in our social life. More than winning, sports helps you learn to deal with defeats.” Unquote.
India has a story of sports from times immemorial. India's diversity of culture, like every other field, is reflected in the wide variety of sport disciplines in the country. The oldest stadium in the world with terraced stands was constructed at Dholavira, Gujarat during 3rd millennium BCE. It is the ancient Indian game of Chaturanga which has evolved as Chess today; the story of Dhronacharya and Arjuna continues to inspire us every day; Mallayudha, modern day Wrestling gets depicted in our epic Mahabharata, polo emerged in Manipur and the world’s first polo club was established in Assam in 1833. There are so many sports activities like our Kabadi and our martial arts all across India that makes us all proud of our traditions and cultural diversities. Today, even winter sports have become so common in India, like the world famous Skiing tournaments that take place every winter in Gulmarg and Manali.
In the past we excelled in Hockey, with India winning the Olympic gold medal eight times; our tennis heroes Vijay Amritraj and Leander Peas continue to be among our heroes; our Chess master Vishwanathan Anand continues to inspire most Indians, our flying Sikh Milkha Singh and his son Jeev Milkha Singh are names that continue to inspire all, our cricket world cup wins continue to trigger goosebumps to every Indian whether in India or abroad.Today we have so many sports heroes to be proud of and take inspiration from. Mary Kom, Saniya Mirza, Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, P. T Usha, Shiney Wilson, Anju Bobby George and many more our talented sportswomen have brought India today to the top of world sports atlas. There is no looking back.
As the interest in sports in India has grown, the sports industry in India has also grown manifold. Today, India’s sporting goods are popular around the world and have made a mark in the global sports goods market. The domestic industry exports nearly 60% of its total output. India’s major exported items are inflatable balls and accessories, nets, general exercise equipment, boxing equipment, toys and games, protective equipment, cricket equipment, sportswear, carrom boards and so on. Our top ten destinations for export of sports goods are the US, UAE, UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, South Africa, Sweden and Canada. Indian sports products have been exported for global events.
Today, India has emerged as the leading international sourcing destination for inflatable balls and other sports goods for international brands such as Mitre, Lotto, Umbro and Wilson. Due to many initiatives such as professional leagues of developed sports, promotion of underdeveloped sports, professionalization of heritage sports and increased corporate sector investments, sports industry expects a faster growth and has the potential to overtake IT and related industries in near future.
The Indian sports sector is experiencing a sea of changes with all round development initiated by the government and the private sector. The game changing scheme of Khelo India has been addressing issues such as infrastructure, talent scouting and training facilitation. Private sector are also organising various leagues and tournaments and getting involved in grassroots development.
When we celebrate India in Kuwait as part of our 75th anniversary of independence, it is important that we celebrate the sports in India and we showcase to the world the growing sports industry in India to promote our sports exports including to Kuwait. I see Advisor to Indian Business Network Shri Ashok Kalra present here. I request IBN to organise a major event to promote Indian sports industry in Kuwait in collaboration with Sports Goods Export Promotion Council of India. Let every basketballs and footballs and every cricket bat and all sports equipment and accessories that we Indians in Kuwait and our Kuwaiti friends use here in schools, in universities, in various companies and even in every homes be Indian products. Let this collaboration be part of our Aatmanirbhar Bharat partnership.
Let’s join hands to create a Fit India and Fit Indians in Kuwait. Let’s join the Khelo India Movement and Fit India movement. Hum Fit Tho India Fit! As part of our 60th anniversary celebrations of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Kuwait and our 75th anniversary of independence I have great pleasure in announcing two ever rolling trophies Ambassador’s Cup for Badminton and Ambassador’s Cup for Cricket. I urge all interested players to join us once we start these tournaments depending on the evolving Covid 19 pandemic situation. In the meantime let’s promote Indian sports products in every possible way.
I invite all sports enthusiasts in Kuwait to join hands with us to celebrate India. With those words I formally launch the Indian Sports Network (ISN) in Kuwait.