“We are going to short-list important qualifying international events and the Youth Asian Para Games are coming in Bahrain, we also have to start working with the U-20, younger brigade,” Malik said at the virtual press conference.
“The Gen-Next is ready and roaring and we need to give them a platform to get classified and go out and participate, get international exposure, get more and more opportunities to get them medically classified, otherwise the new talent gets wasted,” she said.
She believes that all stakeholders would come together after Tokyo’s success.
“We are hoping that more stakeholders will come forward and hold our hand. We as a federation are responsible to create new talent, identify and work with new talent, so that is the aim right now,” she said, adding that the ‘train the trainer’ program is a must and she would speak about it with the Sports Minister.
Asked what was the key reason for success, Malik spoke about athlete-centric programmes.
“I think all factors combined. Because unless you have the awareness, where will the new talent come in? 2016 probably, with the help of, media and the support of government and policies helped us create an atmosphere which was accepting of para-sports.’
“And people looked up to para-sports as the prestigious platform to come and empower themselves and create their abilities beyond disabilities,” she said.
Malik believes that policies have become more inclusive.
“When people recognized that this is a platform, they definitely started giving more focus, policies have become more inclusive, we have had direct support from the Prime Minister, Sports Ministry, SAI we ourselves have also regrouped ourselves,” added Malik, who herself won a shot-put silver, in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
According to Malik, her appointment as the PCI president, speaks highly of the athletic-centric approach taken by the body.
“When we created the latest federation group, the governing board members, we wanted to make it an athlete-centric approach, and me being put as President speaks highly of that approach,” she quipped.
Malik emphasized that there has been a difference on how the coaches think.
“This time the coaches have understood that they need to take a very scientific approach. There is a focus on sports science.
“Till 2014-15, I have experienced that the coaches were very possessive about their athletes. Whether it was physiotherapist/ nutritionist, they claimed to know everything but now the coaches approach has also changed, they are asking for physiotherapist, injury management, performance test.”
Now they have started accepting opinions from other domains.
“They want to take the opinion of a fitness and conditioning coach. When their athlete is not feeling good, they want a mental trainer, so this whole acceptance of para-sports as mainstream sports where the athlete has been put at par with any other athlete without any disability, that is also made a huge difference,” she said.
“Everything has fallen in place with these medals and our experiment has worked,” she quipped.