New Delhi, Dec 15 (PTI): There to launch the Khelo India U-21 Women’s Hockey League, Sports Minister and former BCCI president Anurag Thakur ended up being asked about the conjecture surrounding Test skipper Virat Kohli and limited-overs captain Rohit Sharma but he sought to steer clear of the matter by stating “no one is bigger than the sport”.
Thakur, who served as the BCCI president from May 2015 to February 2017 before leaving the position after a Supreme Court directive, was speaking on the sidelines of the launch.
“Nobody is bigger than the sport. I can’t give you information as to what’s going on between which players and in which game. It’s the job of concerned federations/associations. It’s for the concerned association to deal with the matter. It’ll be better that way,” said Thakur when a question on the speculation about the equation between Rohit and Kohli.
After Test vice-captain Rohit was ruled out of the upcoming series in South Africa due to the recurrence of a left hamstring injury, reports emerged that Kohli will take a break from the ODI series in the Rainbow Nation to spend some time with his young family.
This was after Rohit was handed the reins of ODI and T20I teams last week.
Speaking about the new Khelo India initiative, Thakur said it will provide plenty of encouragement and opportunities for young players from across the country to show their skills.
“For any player, events and competitions hold a lot of significance and before big events, if leagues are introduced across the country, where the players get opportunities to play, it is great.
“That’s how the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has started Women’s Hockey League U-21, Khelo India and I congratulate Hockey India and SAI for giving this opportunity to young women athletes.
“Cash prizes will be to the tune of Rs 15 lakh and the Dhyanchand Chand National Stadium (the venue) is hosting big matches since 2015,” the minister said.
Thakur said such events should be held in others sports too.
“I am very confident that when athletes from across the country play in this league, then it will not only boost hockey but also the regional players will get a chance to showcase their skills and among them some will get into the Indian teams in future.
“I think not just in hockey but in other sports too, something like this should be organised.”
He also cited a particular initiative by the BJP MPs of Uttar Pradesh.
“We have seen a very successful initiative in Uttar Pradesh where the elected BJP MPs organised sports events in which lakhs of players from the state took part in different sports.
“It showed how players, when they get a platform, come forward and display the kind of skills which would have otherwise been restricted to their villages.
“But here, they became champions, won cash prizes, saw their names on papers and the association also took note. If every MP does the same, it will be great and SAI will encourage it.”