Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday announced that the diet budget of the Sports Association of India (SAI) trainees, senior and junior athletes will be increased to bring parity.
Before announcing his new decision, the diet budget for SAI trainees, junior athletes and senior athletes was Rs. 250, Rs. 480 and Rs. 690, respectively but the Rijiju has decided to make the amounts same for everyone associated with SAI. Referring to his visit to the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, Rjiju said that the athlete's diet needs are important for the individual to attain world championship:
"While having my meal at the athletes mess in Patiala, I noticed that senior and junior athletes and SAI trainees have different diets since the food budget for each section is different. However, diet is key for the success of a sportsperson and no child can become a world champion with inadequate diet."
Further explaining the importance of diet in sports, Rijiju said that the needs of the athletes are far more important than budget alloted for the diet plans:
"The diet of an athlete should not depend on the level at which he or she is playing, but on the need of the athlete as per the recommendation of coaches and nutritionists, the budget cannot be the deciding factor while planning an athlete's diet. I have therefore decided that going forward, there will be no discrepancy in the food budget of athletes who are training at SAI centers," added the Minister after having breakfast at the women's hostel here at NIS Patiala."
In order to inspect the conditions of mess and kitchens, Rijiju visited to take a first-hand report of the quality of food and the preparation. He has also assured that the kitchens in all SAI centres will be modified and turned into state-of-the-art to ensure that the nutritional value of food is not lost.
Here's a tweet by the Sports Minister who said that his decision will benefit over 12500 athletes:
In addition, the Minister also announced that besides food, supplements prescribed for the athletes will also be made available, without any delay.
"The sports ministry will release an additional amount to Rs 150 crore annually to fund the new diet budget." he said
During his visit, Rijiju met athletes from a range of sporting disciplines like volleyball, boxing, athletics, weightlifting and spoke to them and engaged in conversations with their coaches. The quality of food served, training regimes and requirement for additional facilities and infrastructure were some of the key points that were discussed.
In addition. the Sports Minister also assured that a contingent from the Indian Men Boxing Team at National Institute of Sports, Patiala will be sent for 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
While speaking to the athletes, Rijiju also took their inputs and suggestions to improve facilities while asking them to reach out to him with issues that need immediate attention, Rijiju assured that their requirements would be catered to within two or three months.
"India is an emerging 5 trillion dollar economy, and necessary funds will be managed. We are committed to use funds wherever needed. All athletes will be given all requisite facilities to train well and bring medals for the country,": he said.