I never wanted to bargain, but...
I wanted to stay on for a longer period and finish the task I had started. But given the way I was treated, I couldn't have, it was beyond my interest and safety, writes Szucsak Lazlo, India’s rifle coach.other Updated: Mar 27, 2009 00:20 IST
I am not the kind to indulge in mudslinging. But it would be silly to keep silent when someone wants to sully my name by feeding the media with one-sided information.
I wanted to stay on for a longer period and finish the task I had started. But given the way I was treated, I couldn't have, it was beyond my interest and safety.
The National Rifle Association of India secretary-general, Baljeet Sethi, called me back after the Athens Games, but for months I continued without a salary or contract.
During the last four years, my boys won a basketful of medals in various competitions at the Asian and world level. We had a huge haul at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and were one of the richest countries as far as bagging Olympic quotas in rifle was concerned.
Nine months before my contract expired, I expressed my willingness to continue till the next Olympics. I had two conditions, which I thought was fair given my six years of service to Indian shooting. It contained not just the salary element but also working methods.
I got just verbal promises. Six month before the expiry of my contract, I got another verbal promise. Three months before my term expired, I was still waiting for a response.
I never wanted to bargain. I just wanted a plain yes or no. My contract expired on August 31, 2008 and still I had no offer from India. I returned home but kept in touch with my shooters. I was shocked to see that the entire training programme had been erased when I returned.
I came back in November at my own risk. After negotiations, the Sports Authority of India gave me a three-month contract. What a reward after six years of service! Later, it was extended to six months. With great difficulty we started training in December and it seemed everything was falling in place. The NRAI promised to "complete" my salary but I never got it. Also, I did not get the two-year contract as promised.
I submitted my resignation on March 1. But till then I had not signed up for any other country. I overheard two officials saying, "Laszlo is bluffing". My work is not charity; it is a profession with a certain price and with required conditions.
My heart bleeds that I will leave great shooters like Anjali Bhagwat, Deepali Deshpande, Anuja Jung and Gagan Narang.