After putting in their heart and soul into training in the searing Delhi heat, the Indian junior shooting team is staring at uncertainty just three days before their maiden international competition.
Reason: The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) wants to send officials in the guise of coaches, but the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is not willing to play ball.
The federation, in a bid to put pressure on SAI to okay the names of 'coaches', has threatened to pull the team out of competitions in the Czech Republic (June 7-10) and Germany (June 11-17).
SAI sources told HT that a majority of the nine coaches due to accompany the 27-member squad are office-bearers of the NRAI or state associations and they cannot be cleared as per SAI guidelines. "We have asked them to adhere to the government guidelines and also reduce the number of coaches to four," said a SAI official.
"Those coaches, not adhering to the government criteria, can still accompany the team but at the federation's cost," said the official.
Federation threatens pullout
But SAI's directive has not gone down well with the federation. In a communication, dated May 31, the NRAI joint secretary-general, Jagjit Singh, has threatened to withdraw the team from the competitions.
"It is not possible to meet the criteria framed by SAI, so we will not send any junior team till such time the two bodies finalise a mutually-agreeable policy," said Jagjit in his letter.
SAI said the decision to send the team rests with the NRAI. "We have given the sanction for four coaches. It is up to the federation whether they want to send the team or not," said the SAI official.
Some of the coaches had reported late for the camp or had failed to turn up.
"The inclusion of office-bearers is due to vote politics. Many of the coaches were either missing from the national camp, which started on May 29, or joined two-three days back. Some parents even raised this issue at the range," said a source.