NEW DELHI: The derecognition of National Sports Federations (NSFs) has impacted the Indian sports’ cautious return to normalcy. Following the derecognition of all 57 NSFs by the Delhi High Court, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) decided to step in to restart sports activities on behalf of the suspended NSFs. But, in the process, the SAI forgot about a basic difference between opening its facilities and conducting the national camps, which have predominantly been the NSFs’ work area.
No one is faulting the SAI for its increased workload because the sports ministry chose to approach the court in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic to grant provisional annual recognition to three earlier derecognised NSFs – Indian Golf Union (IGU), School Games Federation of India (SGFI) and Rowing Federation of India (RFI).
The unwarranted urgency not only resulted in the court rejecting the ministry’s plea, but, in the process, also suspended the annual recognition of the remaining 54 NSFs. The decision disrupted the NSFs’ plans for national camps and training of their athletes post lockdown.
On Tuesday, the SAI came out with a release on the Karni Singh Shooting Range (KSSR), stating: “With an eye on the Tokyo Olympics, the SAI is opening its facility for the Olympic-bound shooters who form part of the core team of Indian shooting”.
Later in the evening, the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) division of the SAI sent out a mail to shooters, communicating: “This is for your kind information if you are desirous of training there (KSSR). All desirous athletes have to book training slots at the KSSR range for the same. Ammunition will be provided as per norms”.
The key word here was “desirous”, which meant the SAI merely opened its shooting facility but not for the camp. Some unnamed SAI officials had recently spoken about holding of camps for all 57 NSFs until their recognition is granted back.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) was planning to hold the camp for its 32 core group shooters after July 15. Had the NRAI been recognised, the SAI wouldn’t have contacted the shooters directly to ask about their “desirability”. Instead, the shooting federation would have planned and held a proper camp.
According to a senior NRAI official, SAI’s communication was silent on four key points.
“What about the air travel booking for shooters arriving from different cities of India? Who will get the shooters permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to carry their weapons during air travel and airport checks?
“DGCA’s permission for weapons remains valid for three months and the previous one expired during the lockdown period. Now, the shooters need a fresh authorisation letter, but the NRAI is derecognised. What about their transportation and advanced hotel bookings in Delhi? SAI only funds the camp, but it’s the NSFs which conduct them in actuality,” the official informed.
Also, the shooting coaches remained clueless about any such resumption of training at the KSSR. The TOPS division surprisingly didn’t send out the communication to report at the KSSR to both the elite foreign and Indian shooting coaches, including foreign experts Oleg Mikhailov and Pavel Smirnov and India coaches like Suma Shirur, Deepali Deshpande, Jaspal Rana and Mansher Singh, among others.
With the number of Covid-19 cases rising in the national capital, some shooters have understandably been reluctant to travel to the city and want to continue practising at their respective home ranges.
In cycling, the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) had planned a national camp for its elite cyclists, including Esow Alben, Ronaldo Singh and David Beckham among others, in Imphal from July 1 and had made arrangements for the riders to assemble in the Manipuri capital. But, due to the derecognition, its planning went haywire. CFI then came with a new date of July 10 for the camp and accordingly started making travel arrangements for other national team’s cyclists in Andaman, Punjab and West Bengal.
However, CFI received a message from SAI on Tuesday, informing them about relocating its camp to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala. CFI insisted on the camp in Imphal, but SAI told the federation that it wouldn’t be funded then. CFI later agreed to the change in location.
In hockey, India’s men and women teams, who have qualified for Tokyo, are scheduled to assemble at the SAI regional centre in Bengaluru on July 19 following a month-long break. But, due to the derecognition, there’s a confusion over the resumption of camp now, besides who will take care of the air travel expenses and logistics. Also, the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru might discourage the two teams to travel back to the city.