Chandigarh, August 27:
Punjab today became the first state in country by felicitating its Commonwealth contingent with cash prize as the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday felicitated 23 sportspersons of Punjab who represented the country in recently concluded Games at Birmingham with cash prize worth Rs. 9.30 Crore.
“This is a humble effort from our government to recognise the massive efforts out by all you to bring laurels for the country” said the Chief Minister while addressing the gathering here at Municipal Bhawan.
Interacting with the players, the Chief Minister reiterated the firm commitment of state government to restore the pristine glory of the state in field of sports. He said that strenuous efforts are already being made by the state in this regard. Bhagwant Mann said that the sportsmen of the state are being honoured with cash prizes to encourage them and other budding players to excel in sports.
The Chief Minister asserted that our sportsmen have brought laurels for the state and now the onus lies on the state government to recognise these achievements.
Highlighting the dire need of sports infrastructure to match at world level, he said that we have inherited natural talent to excel in sports and given a chance these players will conquer the world with grit. However, Bhagwant Mann said that for this world class infrastructure coupled with professional coaches, diet and other facilities are required.
The Chief Minister unequivocally said that the state government has already enhanced the sports budget to build new stadiums at village level, from where the natural talent is produced but had been hitherto ignored. Talking about the sports extravaganza ‘Khedan Wattan Punjab Diyan’ starting from August 29, he envisioned that these games will boost the sporting activity in state by channelising unbounded energy of the players in a positive direction. Bhagwant Mann said that such concerted efforts will bear fruits by providing a platform to the players to excel in arena of sports.
The Chief Minister emphasised that to propel sports culture at schools, the state government is recruiting DP and PTI teachers on war footing. Sharing anecdotes with players, Bhagwant Mann also revealed love for sports and mentioned that he inherited the love for hockey from his father.
The Chief Minister also recalled the names of hockey legends such as Balbir Singh Senior, Surjeet Singh, Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Ajit Singh and others who had brought fame for the country in Hockey. Terming Gurjant, Manpreet, Akashdeep and others as stars of contemporary times, he expressed hope that the country will conquer the world again with the help of these legends. Recalling the names of renowned Drag Flicker of Holland Floris Jan Bovelander, Tennis Players Martina Navrtilova and Boris Becker, Bhagwant Mann said that sports rules are changing drastically in prevailing times, so we have to adapt with these rules swiftly.
The Chief Minister specifically remembered Cricket Player Harleen Deol’s stunning catch against England and also extended warm wishes towards Women Cricket Team Captain Harmanpreet Kaur. He said that it was a rare honour for him to be in the presence of illuminating sports gems. Bhagwant Mann asserted that massive efforts are afoot to revive the hockey team of Punjab Police, football teams of JCT Phagwara and Rail Coach Factory.
The Chief Minister said that 23 players from Punjab participated in Birmingham, out of which 19 players won three silver and four bronze medals. He handed over cash prize to Weightlifter Vikas Thakur, Men’s Hockey Players Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Hardik Singh, Varun Kumar, Krishan Pathak, Shamsher Singh, Jarmanjit Singh and Jugraj Singh, Women Cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Harleen Deol and Tania Bhatia, Weightlifters Harjinder Kaur, Lovepreet Singh and Gurdeep Singh and Women hockey player Gurjit Kaur. Apart from this, Judo player Jasleen Saini Judo, athlete Navjit Kaur Dhillon, cyclists Naman Kapil and Vishwajit Singh were also felicitated.
Meanwhile, the Sports Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer informed that Sports Budget has been increased 56 percent and logistics support have been created for sports. He informed that the Chief Minister will inaugurate ‘Khedan Wattan Punjab Diyan’ by playing Volleyball at Jalandhar on August 29.
Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Principal Secretary Sports Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Director Sports Rajesh Dhiman and others.