While the government is spending crores on the Commonwealth Games, players in elite training centres are struggling to get basic facilities.
Trainees at the Sports Authority of India’s Training Centre (STC) in Bhiwani, which has the distinction of producing international medallists like bronze-medallist Vijender Singh, have not got training kits for one year. It’s mandatory for SAI to give training kits worth R 4,000 each to residential and day-boarders once a year.
In athletics, there is no coach for the last four months and around 20 athletes are on their own.
The centre has also not got consumable training equipment since last year. The residential trainees are entitled to a daily diet of R 125, but every month, the centre receives lesser grants for the actual demand made. Left with no option, the officials have to either curtail trainees diet and other expenses or procure food on loan.
The hostel building too is in a shabby state and the estimate of R eight lakh for its renovation has been sent to the Haryana government and SAI head office, but nothing has been heard so far. A peeved trainee at the Bhiwani centre, Olympian Dinesh Kumar, said, “Don’t expect results with such facilities. It’s the players’ hunger and passion to achieve targets that are egging them on.” The centre has also produced an Arjuna awardee in volleyball (Amir Singh) and athletics (Shakti Singh).
The condition of STC Hisar, which has dozens of international women boxers including World Championship medallists, is no different. To its credit, the centre has Poonam Rani, a member of the India hockey squad for the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.
No training kits for the last one-and-half years, lack of equipment and mounting liabilities are adding to the trainees’ woes. “The monthly expenditure of the centre on diet is R 5.45 lakh (145 trainees x R 125 x 30 days) but it gets only R 4.25 lakh per month,” a source told HT.
“Looking at the spiralling costs, R 125 per person is too less. If we curtail expenses on their diet, we would be playing with the country’s future. So, we try our best to give them the best possible diet even if we have to buy food on credit,” said an STC Hisar coach.
Director In-charge, northern regional centre, Sonepat, Mukesh Kumar, said, “We have invited tenders for this year’s kit and soon the players will get them. We have written to the head office for last year’s kit.”
A Delhi-based SAI official said, “Till August last, AK Sharma was the director in-charge of the northern regional centre and during his tenure he diverted funds without taking permission from headquarters. That’s the reason why STC Bhiwani and Hisar are running short of funds.”