No money. No training. No medals?
While the 35th National Games are scheduled in Kerala early next year, Jharkhand’s chances of respectable performance are getting slimmer by the day.
By virtue of borrowed players, the state had managed to finish fifth — winning 96 medals — during the last edition of the Games in Ranchi two years ago. But, when the fortnight-long sporting extravaganza begins in the southern state on February 21, our players will perhaps be the least prepared and lowest on confidence because funds for their training have not been released yet.
Normally, four-six months of rigorous camps are needed to keep athletes in fine fettle.
Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) accused the Hemant Soren government of sitting on money sanction and hence, coaching schedule.
JOA treasurer Madhukant Pathak claimed that a few days after a meeting with sports department mandarins in April this year, they had formally submitted a budget for the Kerala Games. “However, we are yet to hear anything from the government side,” he said.
According to Pathak, they had invited individual proposals from every discipline of sports before compiling an estimate for training players.
“If I remember correctly, a budget of close to a crore was given. It included funds for three or four phases of training, travel allowance, kits and other miscellaneous needs. The government has to take a call now,” Pathak, who is also the president of Jharkhand Athletics Association, said.
Based on its performance during the 34th National Games in February 2011, Jharkhand secured direct entry to the upcoming meet in the following disciplines — athletics, lawn bowl, archery, hockey, taekwondo, boxing and wushu. For the rest, there will be selection trials later.
Considering how “inadequate” a majority of individual associations has been so far, the onus of providing financial aid to players does rest with the state alone.
“Sports associations are not profit-making bodies. Hence, they have to rely on the government for funds. There has been a drought in aid for the past few years and we are struggling,” claimed Pathak.
Secretary of Jharkhand Wushu Association Shivendra Dubey conceded that without funds, the state’s preparedness for the Games was poor. “This time, the government has said that only home-grown talents will participate. But, if funds are not released, how can we host training camps and hone skills?” Dubey was candid.
Sports director Dadan Choubey said the government machinery was busy with the SAF Junior Games, which ended on November 11, and had no time to delve into National Games matters.
He added that a meeting was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. “But, whether it will be convened has not been confirmed by our secretary. She is expected to return from Delhi tonight (Tuesday).”
Which sports discipline do you think needs maximum stress?