In a precarious position as an athlete and administrator, I have had the chance to go through the National Sports Development Bill in detail, and the debate that surrounds it.
While I, by all means, agree that this Bill is not the magic pill Indian sports needs, it is a step in the right direction and I am unsure why there is so much opposition.
Realistically, shouldn't athletes and administrators have common goals --- namely the best possible performances on all stages of sport?
So, if that is true, why is there a difference of opinion now? For an athlete, the bureaucracy has always been the bane of our existence, and any athlete in the world can probably give countless instances where people running the sport have interfered with their performance. So, a change in the system will always be welcome and the hope that things will be for the better lives on. Each and every athlete I have spoken to feels this Bill is a step in the right direction. As an administrator, getting the best possible results is the paramount goal. I strive each day to only do what is best for the athlete and nothing else matters.
The requirement is an efficient and clean system, which will eventually grow the sports we manage. Eventually, these benefits trickle down to the players and the results keep improving. From the point of view of the organisation I work for, we only want an honest and transparent system which works effectively for the betterment of sport in the country.
Lack of credibility This Bill is in no way hampering that effort. In fact, it is proven that the various organisations following the corporate style have managed to get good results out of their athletes. The Indian system has lacked credibility thus far and most of the controversies surrounding sport have been specifically due to these issues.
The facts are simple — our present system doesn't produce results commensurate to the inputs. All statistics are heavily tilted towards the negative. Using our medals tally at the Olympics as a benchmark, it is an aberration when matched with factors like population (three vs 1.3 billion), sports budget (3 vs R1143cr spent on sport), talent pool (three medals among a contingent of 312 athletes), etc.
So, it is obvious that the present system does not work! We need to think of the bigger picture and welcome the changes. Are we as a country so averse to change, even if it could be for the better? The grass is proverbially greener on the other side, but we can never see that if we don't want to turn the corner.
(A former India tennis player, the writer is administrator at the Mittal Champions Trust)