Panaji: Bhakti Kulkarni is known for many firsts in Goan sports. The Margao-based chess player was the first Woman Grandmaster, first to win the Asian Chess Women's Championship, first to represent India at various international tournaments and the first to win medal at Olympiad, representing India A at the recently-concluded 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai. Now, Bhakti is the first to be offered a government job for winning laurels for India, after the state government informed her that she would be considered for a role with Sports Authority of Goa (SAG). "Bhakti is a role model for all sportspersons. It is her dedication that makes her stand apart. She has proven herself and she will do so in future too. We are trying our best to support her. “The government has offered her a permanent job. It is our pleasure to announce that players who win medals for India will be considered for a permanent job. Bhakti will be appointed in SAG as a chess expert as per SAG rules," chief minister Pramod Sawant said during Bhakti's felicitation ceremony, organised by the Goa Chess Association on Monday. Bhakti didn’t know what she would gain after the medal at the Olympiad. India A team received Rs 1 crore from Tamil Nadu government. She received her share, but the state government also moved the file faster to reward her with Rs 10 lakh during the function. Then, the job offer followed. "It came out of the blue for me. It is not easy to perform without financial support. I have no sponsors or endorsements as of now. The reward money and subsequent job offer is something that will ease a ton of burden on me. I am feeling proud, not because I am the first recipient of this scheme, but it opens the doors for future medal winners. It is a big boost for sports in Goa," said Bhakti. The Covid-19 pandemic saw several tournaments being conducted online. Bhakti, though, couldn’t take it easy and had to constantly improvise. "It is not easy to go on. Chess needs money. The onboard tournaments will take place and money is essential to keep going. There was a constant worry in my mind about that factor. Now, I can say that I will be able to play freely," said Bhakti.
Panaji: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has sought the support of the ministry of youth affairs and sports in its attempt to organise the National Games every two years.Kerala hosted the last edition of the National Games in January 2015. The next edition was scheduled to be held in Goa, but the state has been unable to come up with the necessary infrastructure to host the multi-discipline sports event for the first time.“Goa was allotted the 36th National Games in 2008 to conduct after the Kerala National Games,” IOA general secretary Rajeev Mehta wrote in a letter to secretary (sports), Union ministry of youth affairs and sports, on Friday. “Due to different reasons, Goa is still not ready to conduct the Games. Some of the reasons we feel are elections of Parliament and state assembly, unexpected natural calamities etc, causing postponement of the Games. Besides this, the state governments depend on central government for allocation of funds to create the infrastructure for conducting the Games.”Since 2002 when Hyderabad hosted the 32nd edition of the National Games, only three more editions have been held in Assam (2007), Jharkhand (2011) and Kerala (2015) in the last 20 years.“For a proper development of sports and promotion of the Games, it is necessary to conduct the National Games after an interval of every two years, so that the athletes can have proper and highest national platform to compete during their actual sporting career.The conduct of National Games on a regular and fixed time schedule is a very important requirement of Indian sports and sportspersons. Therefore, we request the support and cooperation of the ministry of youth affairs and sports. After Goa, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya are in queue to conduct the National Games,” said Mehta.Since being allotted the sports portfolio by chief minister Pramod Sawant, new sports minister Govind Gaude has taken a stand contrary to that of former sports minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, who insisted that the state was ready to host the National Games, even at short notice.“I don’t think we are ready for the National Games. There are a lot of aspects about infrastructure. We are not prepared, we have to make preparations and get ready,” Gaude told reporters after being named sports minister in April.Gaude has now said that almost 85 percent of the sports infrastructure needed for the National Games is ready with the much-delayed refurbished swimming pools at Campal and Margao scheduled for inauguration later this month.“We will be ready with the infrastructure this financial year,” Gaude had told TOI. “What is required will be ready by December 2022. Next year if the Centre allows us, we will be in a position to host the National Games.”