New Delhi: Shashi Tharoor, the Union minister for Human Resource Development, said the government saw the Indian Universities as the "major crucible for sporting achievement in the country." Tharoor was the guest of honour at the Toyota University Cricket Championship match between Eastern Tigers Avadesh Pratap Singh University, Rewa and Southern Sharks University of Madras, Chennai at Jamia Millia Islamia ground, New Delhi on Monday evening.
Tharoor, who was the president of the students' union at St Stephen's, has close links with college sports. A senior official at the United Nations, Tharoor also studied at Kolkata's St Xavier's Collegiate School. Both Xavier's and St Stephen's have produced several international sportsmen, the minister recollected.
"College cricket was a big draw during our days. We would have anything between 10000-15,000 people watching every day of a five-day college match and there were no stadiums in our days. The Combined Universities team was as good as the national team," Tharoor reminisced.
Tharoor enjoyed every bit of the atmosphere at Jamia and was excited at the support the two teams received. "It's great to see so many people turn up to watch this match and Jamia are not even playing," Tharoor said.
The affable minister, who remembered his fellow Stephanian and former Indian Test batsman Arun Lal as a product of the University cricket system, said: "The heady mix of T20 cricket and live TV will give the students the level of attention they never experienced in life. The spin-offs from these games will also affect the other forms of the game."
Tharoor said the TUCC was an initiative in the "right direction" and deserved the support it has received. "We must revive University sport. This tournament will glamorize college sport and the way it is played," he said.