Haryana making sportspersons sweat

Lack of equipment, coaches, space and government help has not dampened the never-say-die spirit of budding athletes in Haryana

The lone sports hostel run by the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, Haryana, at Nehru Stadium in Gurugram was locked up more than two years ago shortly after the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power.

Over 60 players lived in the hostel at one point, but it bears an abandoned look now.

“The hostel was home to hockey and volleyball players, gymnasts and athletes before 2015. All of them had represented the State in national or international events. But in mid-2015, the government suddenly decided to shut it down,” said District Sports and Youth Affairs officer (Gurugram) Paras Ram.

Now children practise gymnastics in the open near the hostel building as parents keep an eye from a bench under a nearby tree.

Savita Lamba, mother of nine-year-old Kanika, said her daughter has been a regular at the gymnastics classes for the past three years but lamented the lack of facilities.

“Ideally, gymnastics classes should be held indoors but there is no indoor space available. The classes are called-off many times due to rain or extreme weather conditions. The coach is good and many of these children have participated in State and national championships. However, they can do more with better facilities,” said Ms. Lamba.

Haryana making sportspersons sweat

She added that the strength of the coaching centre had doubled over the past one year after Dipa Karmakar represented India at the Rio Olympics.

Monika Sharma, a resident of Sadar Bazar, said the authorities have been promising an indoor gymnasium for several years but nothing has been done on the ground so far. She complained that the children did not get good food and lodging facilities during competitions.

‘No drinking water’

“Lodging facilities are not good when the children go outside to take part in competitions. The quality of food served is poor and sometimes there is no drinking water either,” she claimed.

Gymnastics coach Sandeep maintained that “all was well” but admitted that they did not have a physiotherapist to treat injuries during practise sessions.

Sachin, a teenager, injured his neck during practise three years ago and was rushed to a hospital in the coach’s car, recalled a parent.

“Injuries are very common. Someone or the other gets injured every couple of months,” said Ms. Lamba.

Another coach at the stadium claimed that no sports equipment had been purchased since the BJP government came to power three years ago.

“We do not have footballs, cricket kits, ropes and mats. Coaches are forced to pay from their own pocket to provide basic equipment to players. We are told in every annual meeting at Chandigarh that equipment and other sports goods will be made available in a couple of months but nothing has happened so far. How can you expect to win a battle without weapons,” asked the coach.

Dearth of coaches

He claimed there was a huge shortfall of coaches and there were no coaches in Gurugram for even popular sports such as boxing.

“The present government came out with a new sports policy in 2015 but everything remains on paper so far. Policies are always good but it is the implementation that matters. And so far, the output of the present government on this front is far from satisfactory,” said the coach.

Jagdeep Singh, Director, Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, said around 400 coaches were already appointed against the total sanctioned posts of 1,040. However, around 150 of 400 are yet to get their appointment letters.

Making the best of it: Budding gymnasts in Haryana are forced to practise in the open due to lack of sports infrastructure. (Below) Arjuna Awardee Rajkumar Sangwan has been running a boxing academy for the past 15 years. However, his demand for a piece of land to run the academy has fallen on deaf ears.

Making the best of it: Budding gymnasts in Haryana are forced to practise in the open due to lack of sports infrastructure. (Below) Arjuna Awardee Rajkumar Sangwan has been running a boxing academy for the past 15 years. However, his demand for a piece of land to run the academy has fallen on deaf ears.  


Mr. Singh said eligible candidates were not available under the reserved category, which has led to a backlog. He conceded that no new purchases had been made over the past three years but claimed that there was no dearth of sports equipment.

‘Requisition sent’

Mr. Singh said a requisition had been sent to the proper authority and a meeting is expected to be held next week. “After the meeting, it won’t take more than a month to make the purchases,” he added.

The director claimed that the government had successfully organised Haryana’s biggest sports event ‘Haryana Swarnim Khel Mahakumb’, as part of its Swarna Jayanti celebrations this past month. He said the event saw the participation of 35,000 sportspersons in more than 20 games.

“How did we organise the mega event if we did not have sports equipment and goods,” he asked.

More than three years after the Haryana government came out with a notification for its new policy on providing jobs to sportspersons, only 41 candidates have been given employment through the Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Department. Around 300 are still in queue.

“We have received 289 applications for jobs so far. Of these, only 132 were eligible. The process was prolonged as we did not want any eligible candidate to be left out. The last date for submitting applications was November 20. If all goes as planned, they will be given jobs before the year ends,” said Mr. Singh.

However, the delay has caused much anxiety among sportspersons waiting for jobs. The Haryana government’s plan to identify and groom young talent also remains on paper, with its ambitious project to open sports nurseries in schools yet to see the light of the day. Though the government has shortlisted 350 schools for opening these nurseries, none of these are yet functional.

These schools will be given ₹1 lakh worth of sports equipment, ₹15,000 per month honorarium for a coach and also a monthly scholarship for students.


Arjuna Awardee Rajkumar Sangwan, who was India’s first professional boxer, said though the present government had increased the prize money for those winning medals in Olympics, Commonwealth Games and even national and State-level competitions, there was lack of proper mechanism to identify and groom young talent.

“There should be a mechanism to identify young talent at the school level and the government must set up hostels in each district to nurture this talent. But there are no concrete plans so far. The lone hostel of the department has been locked for the past two years. Though stadiums have been opened in some villages and a few coaches appointed, it is not enough,” said Mr. Sangwan, a resident of Bhiwani.

He stressed that the government must think beyond games, such as boxing and wrestling, and promote other sports as well. He recalled the ‘glorious’ times when half of India’s volleyball team comprised players from Haryana but now the State had no representation at all.

“We have talent in Haryana for other games as well. A private handball academy in Jind has produced national-level players. It can give better results with some help from the government. In 2015, a team of girls from Alakhpura village in Bhiwani went on to win the Subroto Cup without any help from the government. When a Physical Education teacher can single-handedly build a national-level team from girls of a village, our players can do wonders with support from the government,” said Mr. Sangwan.

Political intervention

He added that excessive political intervention by the government had ruined the culture of sports in the State. He explained that all political parties had their own associations for different sports, making it difficult for players to decide where to play from.

“The government must set up a State-level board to select national teams for all games. It will put an end to this confusion among players and the best can represent the State,” he added.

Mr. Sangwan, who runs a boxing academy for the past 15 years and has produced international boxers, said his demand to various governments for a piece of land to run the academy had fallen on deaf ears.

“It is sad that the Haryana government has obliged players from outside the State with land for academies but their own players are being neglected.”

He also suggested that the government put in place a mechanism to utilise the experience of veteran players and athletes.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:21:31 PM |

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