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Open and shut case for SAI

After spending huge amounts on the conduct of Commonwealth Games last year, the sports ministry is facing a financial crunch for the development of sports in the country.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2011 00:51 IST
Navneet Singh

After spending huge amounts on the conduct of Commonwealth Games last year, the sports ministry is facing a financial crunch for the development of sports in the country.

Recently, the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) corporate office in the Capital flashed a message to its regional heads “not to induct” new trainees in the Centre of Excellence (CoE) scheme. Currently, SAI has 12 such centres across the country and outstanding players in the age group of 19-25 years are eligible for the scheme. Apart from the residential scheme, there is a day-boarding scheme too.

A top SAI official said on condition of anonymity that, “There is a 40 per cent cut in the budget this year. Hence, there will be no new inductions at any of the 12 centres. Due to financial constraint, the regional directors have also been told not to increase the strength for the 2011-12 session, leave alone starting a new CoE.

Curiously, the sports minister, Ajay Maken, on Friday announced the launch of two new CoE --- in football and swimming — in the Capital. Maken said it would be a joint venture of ministry, SAI and respective federations (All India Football Federation and the Swimming Federation of India).

The venue for the CoE for football will be the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. According to the ministry, the stadium has “enough facilities” for playing football. “There is a residential facility too. It will be convenient to run a residential scheme,” said Maken. The facilities at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee complex will be utilised for running the CoE for swimming.

It's all the more baffling that despite the ministry not even having the blue print for running the scheme in Delhi, it has gone ahead with it. “We will make some changes in the existing norms to make it a successful venture,” said a top ministry official. The official, however, did not elaborate on the financial crunch being faced by SAI.

“Some SAI school schemes are not so productive. We could shut them down. The money saved could be spent on running the CoE in Delhi,” he added.