Dhyandchand's birthday to be celebrated as 'National Sports Day'

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New Delhi, Nov 19 (UNI) Praising legendary hockey player Major Dhyanchand as the greatest ever sportsman to be born in in India, Sports minister MS Gill today said his birthday, which falls on August 29, will be celebrated as 'National Sports Day'.

''I will take steps to ensure that Dhyanchand's birthday is commemorated as National Sports Day from next year onwards. I will write to the Education Ministry about this,'' Gill told mediapersons on the sidelines of a function here.

''Dhyanchand is the greatest ever sportsman to be produced by India. Generations to come will remember him with respect,'' he added.

Emphasising the importance of sports for the development of a well rounded personality, the minister asserted that the curriculum in schools and colleges need to be changed before India can become a force to reckon with in international sporting events.

''Educational institutions are focussed only on academics. They are only concerned about the number of marks the sudents are getting in the examinations. On the other hand, sports is almost totally neglected,'' he said. ''I suppose not even one period is dedicated to sports. But it is not so in Europe.

''There is a saying that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow.'' Lamenting the fact that the hockey legend lived and died in abject poverty and the goverment and hockey federation turned a blind eye to his plight, Gill said it is a shame for the entire nation.

''Dhyanchand lived in independent India for 35 years. Yet he lived and died in poverty. It is a shame on the government and on the entire country,'' he rued.

Speaking of the meagre amount of pension doled out to the athletes Gill stated,''it is odd that an Olympic gold medallist gets only Rs 4,000 as pension that too for only three to five years.

This is absolutely absurd. I have changed this stupid thing.'' ''These are heroes who young people look up to. If you do not look after them, how can you motivate the younger generation to take to sports in a big way?'' he asked.

Referring to the craze for cricket that is prevalent all over the country Gill remarked,''cricket is interesting but hockey lives in our heart.'' UNI AB SK HT1430

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