Chandigarh, February 28:

Punjab has a close relationship with sports. Sportspersons born on this land have made a name in the country and the world. In the last few decades, Punjab was lagging behind at the National level, about which the current government is very serious. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, the State Government is making efforts to restore the old glory of Punjab in sports, which started with the new sports policy. It was stated by Punjab Sports Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer while delivering a keynote speech at the inauguration of a ‘Sports Conclave’ organized by a sports magazine here today. On this occasion, he also honored World Cup-winning Hockey Olympian Brigadier Harcharan Singh and Junior Indian cricket team captain Uday Saharan.

Meet Hayer said that the State Government has been working continuously for the past two years to create a sports culture in the state, the tangible results of which were revealed during the Asian Games last year when 32 players from Punjab won 20 medals, breaking a 72-year-old record. Under the new sports policy, cash prize money was kept for the preparation of every game. For the first time, 58 Punjabi players who participated in the Asian Games were given Rs. 8 lakh per player for preparation. Now Rs. 15 lakh will be given to each athlete for the preparation for the Olympic Games. Around 1000 sports nurseries are being established out of which 260 nurseries have been started in the first phase.

The Sports Minister said that the main focus of the government is to identify the talent at the lower level and give them opportunities to progress. The trials are also being held everywhere. The nursery of that sport is being set up in the area where the sport is more popular. A separate cadre of 500 posts has been created for the medal-winning players for which the players will get a job guarantee. He said that a total amount of Rs 74.96 Cr has been distributed to 24,164 Punjabi sportsmen who won at the state, national, and international levels during a gap of less than two years.