The Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune was recently awarded with the ‘Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar 2020’ by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India for its unparalleled commitment and contribution in the domain of sports, on the occasion of National Sports Day.
Speaking about the ‘Mission Olympics’ program, an ASI official said, “The program’s proposal envisaged raising and establishing a suitably organized and structured Sports Institute/Node. While four sports Nodes were single discipline, co-located at training institutes/static HQ’s like Infantry School Mhow for Shooting, CME Pune for Rowing, HQ MG & G Area Mumbai for Yachting, RVC Centre & College, Meerut for Equestrian sport.
The same entailed upgrading of facilities to international standards. For establishing a multi-disciplinary high performance centre, the Army Sports Institute was hence raised as new ‘Cat-A’ establishment to give the necessary thrust to the envisaged program.”
This was an all-inclusive process, involving Government sanction of its Peace Establishment, construction and development of sports infrastructure, command and control channel, identification, and selection of suitable persons to staff the appointments and more.
“Consequent concerted efforts resulted in creation of state-of-the-art facilities comparable to middle-level international standards at Army Sports Institute for five disciplines viz. Athletics, Archery, Boxing, Diving, Weightlifting and Sports Sciences Faculty,” said the official. “These were inaugurated by the then COAS on 25 September 2005. Subsequently in April 2007, Wrestling was also included as a discipline and was inaugurated by GOC-in-C, Southern Comd. Fencing was added in 2008 and with that ASI now has seven disciplines.
“The establishment of the ASI with respect to cost of infrastructure and equipment has amounted to approx. Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 30 crores. The provision of international standard sports facilities at this node/institute has improved the performance of sportsmen at national and international events like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympics.”
The institute draws its sportsmen from the Army as well as from young raw and proven talent in ‘Boys Sports Companies’ (8-14 years age). These sportsmen are supported by a team of Foreign & Indian coaches, physical conditioners, and specialists in Sports Medicine, Physiology, Psychology, Biomechanics, Statistics and Nutrition.
Speaking about the competitive spirit of its athletes, the official said, “ASI is a homogenous institute and along with the support of Army, SAI and MoYAS we take each competition as a challenge and train hard to excel in them. Our aim is to win medals in the true sportsman spirit. We hope to do well at the Tokyo Olympics since we have strong probables like Amit Panghal (Boxing), Neeraj Chopra (Javelin, Athletics), Deepak Punia (Wrestling) and Tarundeep Rai (Archery).”
“The graph is getting better and we wish to maintain the same in the years to come. The preparations for 2022, 2024, and future events are in good stead. We will positively deliver.
Since raising the institute has enabled participation of 20 sportsmen in Olympics and 12 sportsmen have already qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics with more yet to qualify. The Institute has won six (6) Youth Olympic Medals, nineteen (19) medals in Asian Games, and eighteen medals (18) in Commonwealth Games.
Khelo India Talent (KIT)
ASI has been identified as one of the accredited academies to promote sports as part of MoYAS long term vision plan of securing a podium finish in 2024 and 2028 Olympics. The institute trains athletes in six sports disciplines (Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Fencing, Wrestling and Weightlifting) and is the most premier non SAI academy amongst 49 KIT academies. A total of 101 KIT are presently undergoing training at ASI. The academy in a short span of three yrs has had participation in all three editions of Khelo India school games securing over 125 medals in total, all without participation of female athletes and team events.
In the past three years, the sportsmen trained at ASI have won 450 International and 1118 National medals with several firsts and records. In the last three editions of Khelo India, the sportsmen have won 125 medals in five disciplines.
Speaking about how the institute is striving towards excellence, the official responded saying, “All training establishments are doing their best with the singular aim of winning medals for the country, but ASI has the roots of being an Army set up. Army officers, coaches, conditioners, and support staff are all synchronized to the set goals. It is the discipline which the army teaches which differentiates it from other sporting establishments.”
“The training program and daily routine activities have a focused approach with set objectives. Each discipline and Sports Science Faculty have their short/middle and long-term goals chalked out which have been arrived at after discussion with the sportsmen, coaches and the Officers in charge,” further added the official.
When asked about how being conferred with the award will change the dynamics in terms of the priority accorded to the ASI, the official answered, “ASI has been identified and awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2020. This award has been conferred on ASI for the first time since its raising and was long overdue. It is an honor for the Institute to be awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar for Identification and Nurturing the Budding and Young Talent.
This only motivates the sportsmen and the Team at ASI to further excel and achieve higher goals set for future national and international competitions. The contribution of Army Headquarters (Mission Olympic Wing), MoYAS, SAI and other stakeholders only lifts the morale and momentum to do better.”