National sports federations hail Gill’s reappointment

May 29th, 2009 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) National Sports Federations (NSF) have given a thumbs up to the reappointment of M.S. Gill as sports minister, and have given him a long wishlist at the same time. Most of the requests are about the training of athletes.
Procurement of equipment, ammunition for shooters and release of money for exposure trips overseas are some of the key issues the NSFs want the ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SIA) to address immediately as “time is running out”.

Avtar Singh, Senior vice-president, National Rifle Association of India, said Gill has acted promptly on important matters.

“He does not keep any matter lingering. We are thankful that he immediately cleared new ranges for skeet and trap shooters to prepare for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

Singh, however, has some other things that he wants the ministry to take up quickly.

“Timely supply of equipment and ammunition for shooters is one area that needs urgent attention. The finance ministry is sitting over it. Now they want to float a global tender. If they go for the global tender, it can take another three months for the process to complete. The preparation for the CWG has already been delayed. We had to call off two tournaments this year for lack of equipment,” Singh said.

“The Sports Authority of India needs to be more efficient in handling matters. We do not get money in time for trips overseas. We had to borrow money to send the team to the World Cup. I had spent my money.

“If you are sanctioning the trips, it is your duty to ensure that the finances are cleared in time. As per the rule we should get 50 percent of the money in advance and 50 percent after the trip. But even the advance money is never released on time. We somehow manage because we are businessmen, but what about other federations who have no source.”

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) said purchase of new equipment is the “biggest hurdle”.

“It is a problem with most of the federations. Our players need new tables and racquet rubbers. The are spending from their pocket. The NIS Patiala is under renovation, so we are using our Ajmer centre for training. The tables there are old and we immediately need new ones.

“The ministry has done a good job. But the problem is at the SAI level. They should allow the federations to purchase their own equipment and then reimburse instead of making us wait for sanction of money. The government is considering the proposal, but it needs to be immediately addressed. There is hardly any time left for the Games.

Archery Association of India President Vijay Kumar Malhotra said they are not getting enough money for the athletes.

“More money should be made available for training of athletes, hiring foreign coaches and sending team for international competitions. The stadiums, infrastructure and fly- overs will not bring medals.

“Only three and a half months are left and we hope that the federations get the money that is being promised for the preparation of the athletes. The government is saying for last one year that they have earmarked money for the preparation of athletes, but the athletes have not received anything.”

G.S. Mander, secretary, Wrestling Federation of India, said they need nutritional supplements for grapplers.

“The nutrional supplements that we are getting are not enough for our athletes. Even the supplements for which budget allocation has been made is not being released. These are the things that the sports minister has to adress.

Gill took over the ministry last year in April at a time when the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and then minister Mani Shankar Aiyar were at loggerheads over the implementation of a sports policy.

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said the CWG preparation has been going on in the right direction since Gill took over.

“I thank the prime minister for showing his faith in Gill. He is the right person for the job with Commonwealth Games round the corner. He was associated with the Punjab Olympic Association and his knowledge of sports has helped. We are working in tandem in organising the 2010 Commonwealth Games. We have had good interaction and work is going full speed.”

Mander said when Gill took over, the ministry and the IOA were not seeing eye to eye on many issues.

“It was getting very difficult for us to function. But Gill listened to our problems and immediately sorted them out.”

“We are happy that Gill has returned as sports minister. He brought about a positive change in the working of the ministry and its attitude towards sports federations.

“He announced relief packages for retired sportspersons. He appointed an officer on special duty only to look after the Commonwealth Games related issues and that has been of great help.

“I would expect him to see beyond Commonwealth Games 2010.”

“He should take a fresh look at NIS Patiala. It needs to be turned into a world class centre of excellence. At present the facilities there are below par and we are producing sub-standard coaches. We need advance courses with top faculty and scientific inputs to make the change.”

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