India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the recently concluded Khelo India Youth Games on Sunday in his first “Mann Ki Baat” address of the year. He said that ‘Khelo India’ is a great platform for local-level players to “shine globally”.

In January, about 6,000 players participated in 18 disciplines in the Games held in Pune.

The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in the country at the grass-roots level.

“Many young players making their debut have bloomed in Khelo India,” Modi said in his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” radio address.

“Only when the local ecosystem of our sports will be strong i.e. only when our base will be strong, then only our youth will be able to perform their best in the country and across the world,” Modi said.

“When the player performs his best at the local level, only then, he also shines globally.”

He also acknowledged many medal winners including Akash Gorkha who won a silver medal in boxing and captain of the Maharashtra Under-21 Women’s Kabaddi team, Sonali Helvi.

He said that Gorkha’s father, Ramesh, is a watchman in a complex in Pune while Helvi of Satara lost her father at a very young age but she was encouraged by her brother and mother.

“It is often seen that girls are not encouraged much to participate in sports such as kabaddi. In spite of the hurdles, Sonali Helvi not only chose the sport but excelled in it.”

The Prime Minister also praised 10-year-old Abhinav Shaw from Asansol who emerged as the youngest gold medallist in the Games and Akshaya Basavani Kamat, from Karnataka, who won a gold medal in weightlifting.

“When we talk about the creation of a New India, then determination exhibited by our youth is the veritable example of what New India is.

“These inspiring stories from Khelo India are ample proof that building of a New India does not only involve a contribution from the denizens of big cities but also from the youth, children, young sports talents, hailing from small cities, towns and villages.”

(IANS Inputs)