KOCHI: When it comes to choosing coaches, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is not leaving everything in the federations’ hands this time.
The SAI and sports ministry have made it clear that everything has to go through a proper channel and certain means need to be followed while availing the services of foreign coaches. This was first reported by Express a couple of weeks ago.
The SAI, which employs and pays the coaches, has asked the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to be careful while selecting coaches and even told them money would not be a concern when it comes to availing the services of good coaches.
An official who was there during a meeting between the SAI and AFI last week said the SAI was clear about their stand. They don’t want the federation to send names arbitrarily for clearance. The lacklustre show, despite spending so much money on the athletes for Rio Olympics, has forced the SAI to take such a step.
The meeting was held for mid-year review of the AFI’s Annual Calendar of Training and Competition (ACTC) and was attended by SAI director general Injeti Srinivas. One of the suggestions mooted during the meeting apparently was to make their training productive.
According to a top SAI official, such a meeting did take place and according to their earlier decision they have asked the federation to take out proper advertisements to attract better coaches. “We have suggested, if need be, the use of good offices of the international athletics federation (IAAF) or their website also so that we get more expressions of interest,” said the official. “Only then we will have a good pool from where we can select good coaches.”
Another issue that was discussed during the meeting was the duration of the camps. According to the SAI, if an athlete trains for too long it affects his or her focus. Athletes train more than 300 days in a year. “Training should be productive and should not make them complacent or lose focus,” said an official.
“So there was a discussion on that and, finally, training should be beneficial to athletes.” According to sources, it’s the first time the SAI is taking so much interest even in the duration of camps. According to the official who attended the meeting, the SAI believed there should be breaks between sessions to re-assess their progress and sustain their interest levels.
The AFI delegation apparently tried to argue, saying Indian athletes come from humble background and that makes it necessary for them to stay in the camp so that they get proper diet and supplements. It is learnt the SAI also suggested the AFI delegates look out for the best international coaches rather than mediocre coaches from Eastern Europe.
The way things are, it seems the ministry and SAI are taking things more seriously after the Olympic debacle. “That’s why we are keeping a close watch on the activities of the federations and their process of hiring coaches,” said an official.
(With inputs from Chennai)