We want Our System to produce the World’s Best Athletes- Shiva Keshavan

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In a major development recently, the Indian Olympians came together to form Olympians Association of India, representative body of Olympians in India, to take care of the welfare of current and former Indian Olympians. The Founding Members of the newly created association include Shiva Keshavan, Olympic Luger as the first President of the body, Former Indian Hockey Team’s captain and Olympic Gold Quest’s CEO, Viren Rasquinha as its Vice President, Malav Shroff, Olympic Sailor, as the General Secretary, Adille J Sumariwalla, current President of AFI and Olympic Athlete, as the Treasurer and also have renowned names like Saina Nehwal, Hakimuddin Habibulla, Ashwini Nachappa, Mary Kom while Namdev Sirgaonkar, the President of Futsal Association of India as the convenor.  The founding President of the association, Shiva Keshavan spoke with us about the organization and how it will help the Indian sports grow.

Ongoing challenges of OAI and road-map to achieve these…

This is a historic moment in our Olympic movement since never before had Indian Olympians come together in this way to support one another.

There are huge challenges ahead starting with accounting for all living Olympians since this has not been attempted before.

Another challenge is how to reintegrate Olympians post their athlete career into the society. Many need to develop skills and get educated to get decent jobs. Olympians who want to remain involved with their sports need to be trained as coaches or managers etc.

We have launched initiatives to take care of these aspects along with our partners in the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and Sports Authority of India.

We should not forget that the wealth of experience and knowledge accumulated together by Olympians can be of great service to the current and future generations of Indian sportspersons.

How many Olympians are already registered under the association and how is OAI planning to make it a full house representation of Indian Olympians?

We already have around 100 members. Given that there have been 895 Indian Olympians since 1900 this is a very encouraging number to start with for a brand new organisation.

we are actively contacting everybody through our outreach program and the Olympians can also register with us on our website www.indianolympians.in.

OAI’s plan to support/nurture young sportspersons/beginners…

We will support the Indian Olympic Association and the Government program when called upon. We shall propose sport-wise expert panels made of legendary Olympians and we have already announced the Mentorship program.

However it must be clear that we are not here to interfere with the role of the IOA or SAI but to support them with the involvement of the main stakeholder, the Olympians themselves.

The next big thing Indian sports is getting associated in upcoming days is Rio 2016 Summer Games. What role do you think OAI can play in the Olympic Movement?

It is the OAI’s role spread the message and Ideals of the Olympic movement. As the founder of the Modern Olympic Games Pierre de Cubetain said “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; The important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Having said that we want our system to produce the world best athletes and we shall celebrate the achievements of our Sportspersons.

The few aspects OAI has zeroed in on the foundation day are: outreach, education and skill development, education and health insurance and pension, mentoring of young athletes, legal advice and IOC athlete career programme. Can you please brief about things these will include?

The information is currently on our website. The athletes career program- shall be conducted with the IOC and our partners Adecco and shall be held this year- though online courses are already available. We are firming up the detailed plans with our founding partner, the JRD Tata trust and TATA group for the insurance and mentorship programs. We are also in talks with the Ministry for the pension scheme which we want to make available to all Olympians.

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