In a departure from norms, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) sent as manager with the national team a person who plays badminton for recreation and is not associated with the national body in any capacity.
Anti-terror squad (ATS) officer, Avinash Mishra, accompanied a 30-member squad -- including players such as Saina Nehwal and Ajay Jayaram -- to the high-profile Malaysian Masters Grand Prix Gold event in January this year, with the national association aware that he was a part-time fitness buff at the Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy since 2015.
There are 30-odd people who play badminton at the academy for recreation.
“All expenses of Mishra’s trip were borne by BAI even though there were many in the association who could have gone as managers,” said a BAI official on condition of anonymity.
Mishra, when contacted, said he was picked for the job as he was a regular player at the academy here. “Besides being a member of the badminton academy here, I have experience of playing the sport,” he said.
BAI’s acting secretary Anup Narang seemed unaware about the issue though he took over the post a week before the team’s departure to Malaysia. “Please share with me his (Mishra) name and details,” was Narang’s remark on Friday.
Narang added that though it was “true that top players take their own coaches on tours, the selection of the manager is the responsibility of the federation. I believe that the man in question had a sense of responsibility… so far I haven’t heard anything wrong (about him).
“Even if you come to us and say that you have a sense of responsibility and have been looking after badminton as a sports journalist for the last five years, we will name you as manager of a team,” said Narang.
“We will discuss this issue within the BAI at our meeting and will take all inputs into consideration when we sit together the next time,” he said.
This development comes days after BAI chief Akhilesh Das was charged with nepotism over selection of the team, which competed at the Youth Sports Exchange Programme in Tokyo in 2014.
Narang, however, refuted the charges, saying, “The issue had nothing to do with BAI. It was between Delhi Badminton Association and the Tokyo cultural department.”