India looking for more Cuban coaches

November 24th, 2010 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) After the stupendous success of coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez in Indian boxing, the sports ministry is now looking to employ more Cuban coaches in other disciplines as well.

The diminutive Cuban coach, who has been with the Indian boxers since the early 90s, has played a crucial role in the success of Indian boxers in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Vijender Singh also became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal (bronze) under Fernandez’s coaching stint.

At the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, Indian boxers won four bronze medals and three gold while in the ongoing Asian Games, India are assured of seven boxing medals as seven boxers have made it to the semi-finals.

In many ways, Indian boxers owe their success to Fernandez and the sports ministry feels that it is right time to use Cuban expertise in other sports as well.

Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary in sports ministry, praised Fernandez, who is now a father figure to Indian boxers.

“India will be looking to employ more Cuban coaches in different sports. India has excelled in boxing after the arrival of the Cuban coach, who provided extremely useful expertise in boxing,” Srinivas was quoted as saying by Prensa Latina, Cuba’s state-owned news agency.

Srinivas said that both the countries had signed an agreement for sports co-operation when Mani Shankar Aiyar was India’s sports minister in 2007.

“Besides boxing, we will be looking to use Cuban expertise in diving, fencing, athletics, weightlifting, archery and wrestling. Other disciplines such as volleyball and martial arts will be shortly incorporated after the recent visit of the Indian sports ministry team to Havana,” he said.

As a part of the new agreement, 40 coaches and 25 athletes from different sports will travel to Cuba to receive advice and training for eight weeks, the official said.

He added that the Indian government also want to extend its current cooperation with Cuba in the community sports.

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