At a time when the focus should be on hiring the best foreign coaches for long-term training of Indian sportspersons for the Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympic Games, the Sports Ministry has come up with a strange, almost bizarre, clause that restricts their tenure to just six months!
It’s usually a norm the world over that coaches are hired from one Olympic Games to another or, at least, for a two-year term, but the Ministry has literally cut off the supply route with this new order.
A document in possession of Hindustan Times states, “Foreign coaches/experts shall be appointed by SAI (Sports Authority of India) for a period of six months in a year, extendable up to one year, as per negotiated terms and conditions of employment approved by the Steering Committee and on the basis of the performance of the coach.
“However, the terms and conditions shall include the minimum number of coaches/experts that shall be trained by the foreign coach/expert, the nature and measurable levels of proficiency that will be achieved by the trainee coaches/experts, performance levels of the core probables — individually as well as teams — and periodic milestones to be achieved for each trainee.”
This effectively means that the foreign experts will also have to train homebred coaches besides performing the task of coaching athletes.
Strange as it may seem, the Ministry, while linking the tenure of foreign coaches to performance, has tripled the salaries of the chief national coaches (from 15,000 to 50,000) and given them a tenure of three years and more!
“The appointment of the chief/assistant coaches may be for a period of three years or till the conclusion of the Commonwealth/Asian Games in 2010,” the document says. They have also been promised a 10 per cent hike in salaries per annum.
Naturally, there is great resentment among foreign coaches and Hungarian rifle coach, Laszlo Scuczak, termed it “unfortunate”.
“Some one sitting there is taking these decision without any thought,” said Laszlo who has brought about a revolution in shooting in the country in the last four years with Anjali Bhagwat, Gagan Narang, Tejaswini Sawant, Suma Shirur and the likes attributing their success to him.
Not only this, the assistant coach would also get Rs 30,000. It is common knowledge that foreign coaches do all the hard work and national coaches get the credit in most cases.
In many cases, national coaches arrive only when they have to accompany teams for foreign assignments.
The document further states that comprehensive training and coaching programmes in India and abroad for up to 305 days in a year will be provided to a select group of elite athletes till the 2010 Games, “and as far as foreign exposure is concerned, it shall not exceed 75 days per year for the core group of elite players”.
How is this possible with the coach getting a term of just six months?
A high-ranking ministry official conceded that it was a mistake.
“We are reviewing it,” he said.