A water polo match during the 34th National Games held in Ranchi in 2011
The state sports department is planning to issue an order against fielding borrowed players at the 35th National Games to be held in Kerala from January 31 to February 14 next year.
The department, which is believed to have verbally communicated its wish to office-bearers of some state sports associations, will hold a meeting with the members soon to formally inform about its decision.
Confirming their stand to give more opportunity to home players, sports director Dadan Choubey told The Telegraph: “Why should we depend on the skills of borrowed athletes to bring medals for us at the Games? Jharkhand players should be promoted in big events. Some sports associations have been verbally told about our plans, but we will meet office-bearers of the outfits in 10-12 days to officially notify the decision.”
He, however, clarified that Jharkhand athletes working in other states would be allowed to represent their home state.
“Sports associations bask in the glory of achievements of athletes borrowed by them. But this practice dents the prospects of home players. But the association members hardly note that,” an official in the sports department said.
He explained that borrowed players have no qualms in representing Jharkhand as they are lured by rich cash rewards for winning medals.
“The state government gives Rs 7 lakh for gold medal, Rs 5 lakh for silver and Rs 3 lakh for bronze,” the official pointed out.
The sports department’s move, however, is unlikely to find favour with most associations.
“We have to depend on borrowed players from other states as we don’t have an adequate pool of talents in Jharkhand. Our chances of winning medals in Kerala will be thin if we don’t take players from other states,” said a functionary of a sports outfit on the condition of anonymity.
In the 34th National Games held in Jharkhand, the hosts had notched 96 medals — 33 gold, 26 silver and 37 bronze. Needless to say, most of the medals were won by borrowed athletes.
Barring hockey and archery, the state heavily depended on outstation players in other disciplines.
Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) also does not see any logic in the sports department’s new stand.
When contacted, JOA secretary-general S.M. Hashmi said players who have been representing Jharkhand in prime events, including the National Games, for the past five years are eligible to don state colours.
“It is a norm of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). “How can you stop athletes from other states from competing for us if they meet the criterion?” he asked.