This ‘core’ issue is creating some serious complications. After the Sports Ministry’s decision to form a ‘core group of athletes’ for each of the 2010 Commonwealth Games disciplines, frustration is growing among budding sportspersons who are performing well at the national level but not getting included in national camps or being considered for foreign exposure – all because they are not part of the core group.
Strange as it may seem, the ministry is now only concentrating on the core group, leaving the budding talent to fend for itself.
“Initially, the ministry used to include budding shooters based on their performance and give them two foreign exposure trips every year. But now they have stopped it…they won’t consider anyone outside the core group. They are only sending those who are in their list for the Commonwealth Games. It’s creating a lot of frustration. We will lose all upcoming shooters,” said a senior coach.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi confirmed this development. “We had organised ‘open’ trails at Pune in February after which we sent a list of 38-40 shooters to the ministry for clearance for the exposure trip to Suhl (Germany) from April 27. But they are not clearing it. About half of those in the list are not in the core group and would miss the bus,” he said. “We are starting another camp for shooters on April 7, but the ministry will not fund shooters who do not figure in the core group of 150,” said another shooting coach. “It’s the same for every Commonwealth Games discipline,” he said. “It will demoralise the youngsters. We are cutting our supply line in the name of the Games,” he said.
“With the Asian Youth Games coming up in two months’ time and the Olympic Youth Games in 2010 (both in Singapore), the focus should be on broad-basing, not just concentrating on a particular group. Moreover, there are hardly any juniors in the CWG core group, so where do all the youngsters below 18 go?” he said.
However, the ministry’s International Sports Division joint secretary, Rahul Bhatnagar countered it by saying that, “We have already chosen four times the number of sportspersons per discipline who will represent India in the Games. We presume they are the best and there is no need for more. We want to impart the best training to them,” he said.
Another ministry official said the sports federations have a faulty selection criteria. “Why haven’t they given us the list of the best athletes to be included in the core group?”