Foreign coaches are taking the flight out and the situation seems to have reached alarming proportions with just a handful of them left to train elite players for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
A study done by HT shows that the disciplines where India has the best chances of winning medals in the showpiece event, the athletes are languishing. If shooting is the latest to see the Hungarian coach Laszlo Szucsak leave in a huff, athletics, despite a huge pool of elite sportspersons, doesn't have a single foreign coach. Ditto for boxing.
The disquiet among federation officials is increasing by the day but no one seems to be paying heed. “The national camp for the Commonwealth Games began in November last year but till date there is no foreign coach,” said a senior Athletic Federation of India (AFI) official. “The federation has put its requirements for long-distance, jumps, throws, 400m events. Earlier, there was the problem of finding foreign coaches. But now, despite the AFI having forwarded the details of coaches and experts to the (Sports) Ministry, we are still in the dark,” he said. This is despite the salaries and bonuses of foreign experts going up from $1500-2500 to $5000 or more.
The reason behind this acute shortage is the expiry of contracts of quite a few coaches after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Cuban boxing coach B.I. Fernandes was there till the Olympics and so was pistol coach from Hungary Csaba Gyorik. But after that, no one has filled up the slots.
Earlier, the boxing federation was looking for another Cuban coach, “the best”, but the Cuban government refused to send him. Then the federation requested the world body to send it the list of top coaches. “We had asked for B.I. Fernandes, but we didn't receive any communication either from him or from the Cuban federation. Cuba had recommended another name but before sending it to the Ministry we have to check out his credentials,” said Muralidhar Raja, secretary-general of the Indian Boxing Federation.
“The six-month contract clause is also a hindrance in finding suitable coaches because nobody wants to work in uncertainty. Moreover, all the good coaches would like to have a contract for two to four years, preferably Olympics to Olympics. The paper work is also lengthy and nobody wants to wait for such a long time. The moment they (coaches) get a good offer, they don’t wait. The Ministry wants us to shortlist coaches, send them the details after which they will make up their mind…it is too time-consuming,” he added.
“For reasons only known to the International Sports Division of the Ministry, they have put a clause where by the performance of coaches would be reviewed every six months, which creates uncertainty and is insufficient for them to implement their advanced and innovative techniques,” said another boxing official.
Shooting is the worst sufferer as it doesn’t have either a pistol or rifle foreign expert. So much for our Olympic gold-medal winning sport.