SAI, AP: resources aplenty, results none

HYDERABAD, JULY 6. The principal objective is, as always, very `noble.' But, the implementation is not on par with it. All is not well in the functioning of Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Andhra Pradesh. For instance, two of its coaches in volleyball and basketball are virtually on a paid holiday for more than an year, drawing a salary of about Rs. 12,000 each per month in Eluru after the STC there was converted into a single discipline centre (weightlifting).

The fault may not lie with the coaches but with the system, as they could have been comfortably shifted to centres, where their services could have been availed.

Take the other case. After spending nearly Rs. 1 crore on the STC centre in Nizamabad over the last eight years for the odd silver or a bronze at the National level, still there seems to be no urgency for a serious review of the centre being located there.

The Nizamabad STC centre was started in 1992-93 with athletics, football, volleyball and archery as the disciplines. Subsequently, only archery and athletics were retained. In 1997, it was converted into another single discipline centre for archery. The sanctioned strength of inmates is 30 with Kurmi, NIS coach in charge of training. Strangely, the assurance of providing the imported sets each costing Rs 1.5 lakhs, made a couple of years ago, for the trainees remains only on paper. There is absolutely no follow-up on this count. And the trainees are grappling with just one quality set piece now. Of late, there are only 15 boys and girls with the latter being just day boarders because of its isolation from the township. This centre has been allocated a budget of Rs. 10 lakhs per annum.

But what are the results? Nothing much to talk about. With the exception of Ravinder winning the odd medal at the National level, not a single archer from the centre created any sensation.

The moot question is why the centre has been reduced to a single discipline training centre when the district has been traditionally good in volleyball, basketball, hockey, badminton and judo, which could have been included for better utilisation of the funds.

Though SAAP provided the building and the ground, it is SAI which is doling out huge amounts for the running of the centre. Here again, it is amazing how in the first instance the authorities have opted for this venue which is quite far away from the town.

What is discernible is that there seems to be no proper and consistent review system to evaluate the performance of these centres. Even more appalling is the fact that there is no counselling for the SAI coaches in the state on the lines of their counterparts in the SAAP. Though it is a different issue as to how genuine the SAAP counselling was when it was done last time. Some of them have been working at the same place for more than 20 years and without delivering the goods.

As per the norms of SAI, a coach will be posted at a place for a maximum of five years and given an extension of one more year if he performs exceptionally and another year if there is an extraordinary result from him.

Worse is the fact that a qualified hockey coach is looking after administration in an STC centre for his discipline doesn't exist there. As if all these things are not enough, recently an assistant director was posted there from Bangalore, who went on leave immediately, and is yet to turn up even after two months.

Another interesting facet of SAI coaching staff is that atleast 30 are posted in and around the twin cities itself. Most of them are `busy' by virtue of being attached to either SAAP or some adopted centre. Now, it is officially admitted that the conversion of quite a few multi-discipline centres into single discipline centres is fast turning out to be a major blunder, as they are not able to meet the needs of the promising athletes from other events besides failing to produce champions in the selected disciplines.

The exceptions perhaps being the Eluru STC weightlifting centre, which is producing the desired results despite the trainees practising in a dining hall and not a training hall and that too with old equipment and the Medak Centre (athletics and boxing).

All these clearly point to the simple fact that the Government is spending sums running into lakhs of rupees without actually bothering whether all that amount is really required.

For the record, SAI spends nearly Rs. 3 crores for its various schemes for the 300-odd inmates in the State alone, let alone the salaries. Juxtapose this with those who are genuinely denied financial support despite giving off their best at the National and international levels. Will SAI do a serious introspection of where the money is going or prefer to look the other way?