CHENNAI: The Covid-19 pandemic has not only brought sporting activities to a halt, but also cast a shadow on recruitment of sportspersons by various government and public sector units.
Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) and Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) are the biggest employers for athletes in the country. None of them have been able to start the recruitment process due to the crisis and chances of anything happening in the near future look slim.
The RSPB recruits around 400 athletes in 29 disciplines every year on sports quota. Apart from 16 divisions, nine production units of Railways field teams in zonal and national events. "The process has not started yet. Once the situation returns to normal, we will start recruitment," RSPB secretary Premchand Lochab told this daily.
The official, however, claimed the pandemic will not force changes in the recruitment policy. But he added a few minor tweaks would be needed depending on the situation. "Those who excel in international and national events, can apply for jobs. Right now, no such competitions are possible. If this continues, we may take performance of the previous year into consideration. For this, RSPB will make a proposal to the Railway Board. We will ensure the athletes are not affected," added Lochab.
He informed the board has not issued any job advertisements yet. "We cannot have selection trials as mobility is a big issue. Usually such things start in December. At the moment, the process can only start after getting more clarity."
The PSPB's sporting calendar is ready but activities could not start due to the lockdown. "Normally recruitment happens before PSPB tournaments. March and April is when players are recruited. Sporting activities start in July depending on the nature of sports, whether indoor or outdoor," informed KL Tejwani, PSPB joint secretary.
PSPB promotes and recruits athletes from 20 sports. Among 12 oil companies, ONGC and Indian Oil are major recruiters. "Every company has its own policy. They also appoint a fixed number of athletes. Unfortunately, sports is not the priority at the moment. As soon as normalcy returns, these companies will start nurturing and recruiting athletes," added Tejwani.
He informed athletes are hired in two categories. Top achievers like medallists from Asian Games or Commonwealth Games are appointed on a permanent basis while youngsters aged 16-18 years are recruited under scholarship schemes or a contractual basis.
The SSCB is also still to work on its sporting calendar. "We have no idea. As and when we get clarity from the board or federations, we will chalk out our calendar," said group captain Manoj Kumar Mishra, SSCB secretary.
Sources informed that Indian Army reserves two per cent of jobs for athletes at every centre. The minimum eligibility is participation at national events and Class XII. Athletes have to undergo fitness tests and given the situation, such tests are not possible.