A few days ago, when the Kerala State Sports Council asked sports associations in the State not to conduct State championships during the holy month of Ramzan, many were shocked.
“It's a ridiculous order,” said a senior athletics association official.
“We've never had such a thing before. It will affect our sportspersons in a big way,” said another leading light of another sports body.
But sadly and surprisingly, when a stage was set to air their views, no one raised a word against the Kerala State Sports Council's strange order. No one called for a discussion on the subject during Sports Council's annual general body meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
“We did not discuss the issue at all,” said S. Muralidharan, the secretary of the Kerala Badminton Association, which was one of the bodies to be hit badly by the new order, which came on the advice of the State Sports Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar. The association was forced to postpone its State senior and junior championships, from August to September, after the new development.
“The Sports Minister has a lot of fresh ideas, he is genuinely interested in doing something for sport,” said P.J. Sunny who represented the Kerala Basketball Association at the Sports Council's AGM. “He is even planning to send our sport stars in a/c coaches for competitions.”
But despite the new Sports Minister's keenness to take in fresh ideas, none of the representatives of the various associations cared to stand up and speak for the sports stars they represent.
“Prior to the AGM, many officials privately spoke against the new order which stopped State championships during the month of Ramzan (a month of fasting for Muslims),” said B. Rajan, the President of the Kerala Handball Association. “But nobody wanted to discuss the issue at the meeting, nobody chose to do it.”
A few did not even attend the meeting.
“They are all scared of the Sports Council and the Sports Minister, that is why they don't talk at meetings,” said former National badminton champion George Thomas. “They just keep mum, they don't discuss important issues concerning our players. It's very sad, but this has been going on for years.”
George, an Arjuna Awardee, a former Commonwealth Championship medalist and one of the best stars to emerge from the State in singles, made his point clear on the issue.
“Stopping sport during the month of Ramzan is a very bad move,” said George.
“Next, we may have Christians asking for a ban on competitions during the Lent season in March and April. Some six months will go if all these things are allowed. And in Kerala we lose about five or six months to rain, so we will have just about a month to conduct competitions.”
K.M.I. Mather, the President of the Kerala Football Association, missed the Sports Council's AGM but he made a very significant point.
“According to me and as per the religion, the ordinary, routine life should go on during the fasting period (of Ramzan),” he said. “Normal life should go on and that includes sport too. My personal opinion is that it was not a correct decision to stop sport.”