From there, our team created vast opportunities for our athletes, enabling them to participate in organized sports from local to international level. We were also able to develop the tools for coach training – quality training for coaches leads to quality training of athletes – to ensure sustained athlete growth. The large number of medals won by Team Bharat in the Special Olympics World Summer Games and Special Olympics World Winter Games over the years is proof of this.
In 2010, Special Olympics Bharat was also recognised as the Nodal Agency by the Government, giving us the overall responsibility for the conduct of Sports for people with all disabilities. One of the greatest benefits of this Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) scheme was that it gave us access to 150 districts each year over the next 4 years, and funding organized sport training. This ensured that we covered all 600 districts in India. The paradigm shift resulted in our success, demonstrating the impact of broad basing.
With SOI’s financial support and the Government’s recognition of our sports program, we continued to consolidate and grow. In 2010, at the Global Summit for Strategic Growth, we committed to registering 100, 000 athletes each year – aiming to reach 1.25 million athletes by 2015. Given the population of people with intellectual disabilities in India, this would be only the tip of the iceberg.