Sports Ministry has given the approval for adding four indigenous games in the Khelo India Youth Games, 2021. Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-ta, and Mallakhamba are the four games that will be added to the tournament that is scheduled to take place in Haryana next year.
Gatka is a form of Indian martial arts that is popular in Punjab, which involves duels with the opposition with wooden sticks. Kalaripayattu is also a form of Indian martial art that originates from Kerala, while Thang-ta is a combat-based martial art form from Manipur. Meanwhile, Mallakhamba is a gymnastic sport in which gymnast performs on the wooden pole. All these four forms have been followed in India for decades.
The inclusion of these indigenous games in the Khelo India Youth Games will bring more awareness about the sport amongst different parts of the country. Moreover, youngsters will be encouraged to take up these sports since it will be getting national-level coverage. The respective federations of these four sports will also get encouragement from the inclusion of in the Khelo India Youth Games.
While announcing the inclusion of these four games to next year’s event, Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said (via The Hindu), “India has a rich heritage of indigenous sports, and it is a priority for the sports ministry to preserve, promote and popularise these games. There is no better platform than the Khelo India Games where athletes of these games can compete.”
Earlier in November, the Sports Ministry had sanctioned a significant budget for the six centres of excellence under the Khelo India initiative (KISCE). There is still a long way to go for Sports Ministry to support local Indian games, but improving centres of excellence and adding more indigenous games to the tournament is a step in the right direction if the execution of plans is close to perfection.