New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Launching the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged the country’s youth to take up sports, which he feels can be a great means of national integration.

Modi digitally launched the initiative pan India, kicking off nation’s largest multi-city, multi-sports school and college sports competition.

The initiative is in sync with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ vision ‘Khelo India’ to bring together a unified and professional system in India to develop sports, players and a sporting ecosystem.

“Sports must be a part of everyone’s lives,” a tweet from the PMO read. “We are a large and diverse nation. Sports can be a great means of national integration,” another tweet read.

Modi insisted that young sportspersons should work hard to get success. “In order to be a good sportsperson, it is essential to be hardworking,” PMO said in another tweet.

“If you don’t play, you won’t shine. And never let defeat affect you so much.”

With the official launch, Reliance Foundation will invest in building a culture of sports in schools and colleges to unearth the vast and untapped talent in our education system. RFYS will promote and inculcate multi-discipline sports avenues among the youths of India.

For the inaugural year (2016-17 academic year), RFYS will have football competitions in these eight cities competing in four categories i.e. Junior Boys (Grade 7-10); Senior Boys (Grade 11-12); Senior Girls (Grade 11-12) and College Boys (Graduate institutes).

In first year of its launch, over 2 million youths will be reached through 2000 school and college institutes and 40,000 students expected to participate from these eight cities.

Participating teams across categories will compete in city qualifiers beginning August 2016, followed by City Championships in October/November and finals to be played in January/February 2017.

By year 3 (2018-19) the competition is expected to be played in 32 plus cities and year 5 (2020-21), the RFYS will spread to over 50 cities.

From second year (2017-18) onwards, RFYS plans to add multi- discipline sports such as basketball, athletics, badminton, volleyball and tennis.

RFYS will cover 16 cities, 4000 institutions and expect to have 1 lakh students’ participation and impact four million children through the initiative.

Third year will see RFYS to spread to 32 cities with 10,000 institutions participation and 10 million reach.

“It has been my dream to see India develop as a multi-sports nation. I truly believe that sports can develop the youth in our country and inculcate values of self-discipline, sportsmanship, team spirit, leadership, integrity as well as promote a healthy lifestyle,” Reliance Foundations founder and chairperson Nita Ambani said.

“Our vision is to promote and encourage large participation across multi-sports discipline in over 50 plus cities by 2020 and create opportunities for youngsters to take up sports as a professional careers.”

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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