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Get sportspersons at the helm

The recent suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the worst thing that could have happened to Indian sport. Yasin Merchant writes. Yasin says | Administrators with sporting angle

india Updated: Dec 09, 2012 02:12 IST
Yasin merchant

The recent suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the worst thing that could have happened to Indian sport.

As a player, it's a matter of pride to march under the national flag. Any player who has competed at the Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games will know how it feels to be marching with the flag fluttering in the wind. If that honour is snatched away, nothing can be more demoralising. Administrators with sporting angle

Death blow

I say this because if the suspension is not lifted or an amicable solution reached soon, our athletes will be left in the lurch, after the high at the Olympics. Instead of carrying forth the momentum, the bickering among our sports administrators has put us in a place where we will be pushed back by a decade if a quick solution is not reached. As an athlete, it is worse. If doubt creeps into the mind of an athlete about his participation in an international meet, he will lose the motivation even to practice.

I can say this as a player because at the highest level your mind needs to be free of such uncertainties. If our participation is in turmoil, how do you expect an athlete to practice with his heart and soul?

I know a player should not be thinking about politics, but somewhere at the back of his mind he will be thinking about the predicament that awaits him if the IOC doesn't lift the ban. A player must practice in a healthy environment. It's only when one participates in an amiable setting that he or she can succeed. All the stakeholders, irrespective of which faction they belong to, must come together and put the interest of the athletes ahead of their petty politics.

Instead of fighting among themselves, they must find ways of resolving the issues so that our athletes don't suffer. Such things can be avoided if we have sportspersons holding top posts in national federations. Only a sportsperson knows the trials and tribulations an athlete goes through to succeed at the highest level.

Not a tough task
A sportsperson might not be as dexterous at running the affairs at the beginning, but he or she will learn. I believe a sportsperson can learn the nuances of administration but sport cannot be learnt. We have Olympic medallists, world champions and Asian champions.

They have vast experience as players and must be directly involved in the sport in which he or she is a champion. Because, they know how to keep a player in his comfort zone.

If the IOC or government is asking for the constitution to be amended and if that helps India fare better at the Olympics, the IOA must do so. But it must keep the interest of the players in mind.

The constitution should be amended in such a way that it favours players. The bigger the sport, better the mileage.
So, administrators must think of promoting the sport rather than hanging on to their posts. If any rule is to be amended, it should be done keeping in mind the health of the sport and morale of the athletes.

The writer is a 2002 Asian Games snooker doubles gold medallist