We now have a novel way of spotting new sporting talent — pay now, play later. Swimmers who have qualified for a competition to be held in Tokyo shortly have been asked to pay a whopping Rs 86,500 in advance if they hope to get their toes wet. Now that’s telling it like it is. In other countries, sportspersons are given the best of facilities, food and training. In other words, a smooth ride to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.
But here, we believe in building up their strength and stamina in more unique ways. They will first have to run from pillar to post, a vital attribute to build up muscles for those gruelling field and track events, to get the necessary permissions from the sporting bureaucracy. Next, they will have to burn the calories in trying to raise funds to participate in the qualifiers. And we have always said that sport is as much about human endurance as mental stamina. What better way to ensure both than be given the runaround by our highly-trained bureaucracy. And don’t forget that our sportspersons are India’s ambassadors abroad. So, as with our women’s boxing team, we have inculcated in them the type of good manners that any nation would be proud of. When officials come calling to examine their preparedness, they are able to whip up a tea ceremony second to none.
To those who felt that this was humiliation of those who bring glory to the country, let it be known that this is but just the first part of a rigorous training schedule. The only sore point with us is that we have not exported this model to those namby-pamby rivals that we compete with. Let them spend a few sleepless nights wondering about funds and exercising their elbows serving tea, and we’ll show them what competition is all about.