Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today presented awards and felicitated eminent sportspersons and athletes at a function at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. The programme was organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports under the aegis of its Khelashree scheme. “Awards were conferred to distinguished sports personalities for outstanding contribution in sports at a ceremony at the Indoor Stadium today,” she said.
“Sports is an essential part of life and contributes to maintaining good health. Keeping this in mind, we have given due importance to this activity. In 2011, when we first came to power, the sports department budget was Rs 74 crore. This allocation has now increased almost six times to Rs 477 crore,” she pointed out.
“Football has always been a popular sport in our State. We have organised tournaments in the Jungle Mahal and backward areas of the State like Jhargram, the Terai and Dooars, the Sunderbans. The good players have been given jerseys and Rs 1,500 in financial aid,” she said.
In addition, nearly 15,000 clubs were given financial assistance on the occasion so that they could to develop infrastructure and encourage sports throughout the state. “We want our brothers and sisters to excel in sports and bring more honour for the country and the state in the days ahead,” she told the gathering.
Indicating the stellar athletes and players of yesteryears who were present on the occasion, she said, “Our veterans also have a great role to play in encouraging the younger generations.” She again stressed that “our government is committed to extend all assistance for developing sports infrastructure and sports talent in the state.”
Amidst applause and cheering, the Chief Minister announced, “My Government has decided to extend health insurance benefits under the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme to former players.
Some former and some still playing athletes and sportspersons were conferred with Khel Samman, Banglar Gaurav, Jiban Kriti Samman and Krira Guru awards at the programme.