In a big boost to Indian athletics, the national federation has roped in multi-national food and beverage company Nestle as the title sponsor of its grassroot development National Inter District Junior Athletics Meet (NIDJAM).
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday unveiled Nestle Milo as the title sponsor of NIDJAM, touted as one of the world's largest talent hunt programmes for a single sport, with over 50,000 young athletes participating in it every year.
Milo is the chocolate malt beverage brand of Nestle.
"...it is heartening to know corporate entities are backing a talent hunt initiative that involves young athletes from nearly 500 districts of India. NIDJAM will be a good model for all other disciplines to follow as well," Rijiju said.
"I congratulate the AFI on their good work and I am certain this partnership with Nestle Milo will further strengthen the programme and its outcome will be visible to all."
NIDJAM is a platform for boys and girls in Under-14 and Under-16 age groups to showcase their talent across 10 athletics disciplines. In the past, NIDJAM has unearthed champions like Neeraj Chopra, Dutee Chand, Navjeet Kaur Dhillon and V Subha.
The 2019 edition of NIDJAM will be held between November 24 and 26 in Andhra Pradesh.
Present at the unveiling event were Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Dhruv Batra and AFI President Adille Sumariwalla who welcomed Nestle-Milo as title sponsor of NIDJAM.
"We believe Nestle-Milo is a great brand fit and that it will enjoy the partnership with the federation as the AFI is poised to take track and field sport to new levels in India," Sumariwalla said.
"This year, we are taking it to newer heights by not only increasing the platform's reach to over 400 districts, but we will also be extending financial support to over 100 district associations across the country as a way of recognizing and rewarding their hard work.
"It is a reflection of the positive direction in which AFI has been moving, both in identifying and nurturing talent that makes India proud on international platforms."
Starting this year, talented athletes identified at NIDJAM will be trained and groomed by expert coaches at special national camps, in partnership with Khelo India with 2024 and 2028 Olympics as targets.
"As the world's number 1 cocoa-malt beverage, we are honoured to partner with NIDJAM -- one of the largest Indian national sports talent selection programmes. It is a proud moment for Nestle MILO and we are certain that the collaboration with AFI will strengthen our nation's commitment to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle," said Nestle India Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director Suresh Narayanan.
"Sport is part of MILO's DNA. As a brand, MILO encourages participation in sports at an early age."
Ajit Ravindran, Managing Director of AFI's marketing partners Meraki Sport & Entertainment, said, "While on one hand NIDJAM as a platform has been contributing to our nation's sporting capital for the last 15 years, on the other, Milo's philosophy is to enable all round development amongst kids, through sport. There could not have been a better value match.
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