Give equal importance to other sports:VP

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Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, Sep 21 (UNI) Vice-President Mohammed Hameed Ansari today stressed that the importance being given to cricket in India should be equally given to other sports and games as well.

Inaugurating the Rs three-crore 'Rajiv Gandhi Multipurpose Indoor Stadium' in Mayiladuthurai as part of the 'Special Area Games Training Centre' being established by the Sports Authority of India, Mr Ansari said this was essential to popularise all games and produce more medallists.

Referring to the performance of Indian athletes at the Beijing Olympics, Mr Ansari said combined effort was required to produce a medalist at the Olympics.

Unveiling a statue of Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at the stadium, the Vice President expressed a desire to see all districts in India getting state-of-the-art infrastructure to train young men and women in various sports and games.

The Vice-President appreciated the efforts of Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar in establishing the centre at Mayiladuthurai and appropriately naming it after Mr Rajiv Gandhi, who strived a lot for the welfare of the youth.

In his address, Mr Aiyar recalled on May 22, 1991, Mr Gandhi was supposed to participate in a public meeting at Mayiladuthurai at Rajan Thottam but was assassinated a day earlier.

''In a fitting tribute, we have now established the indoor stadium at the same Rajan Thottam and named it after him,'' he said.

The Minister appealed to the Sports Ministry to sanction funds for laying synthetic floor at the stadium to upgrade it to international standards.

Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs M S Gill hoped the infrastructure facilities at Mayiladuthurai would go a long way in providing training for the youth of this district.

Mr Gill said the Union Government had recently allocated Rs 1,500 crore for taking sports culture to villages and rural areas and to identify the untapped talent.

He called upon the Tamil Nadu Government to utilise the opportunity and claim funds under the scheme.

The Minister also said the Centre had allocated Rs 700 crore for imparting sports training at various levels in the country during a period of three years.

''All the efforts will hopefully make us win more medals in the next Olympics,'' he said.

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