Shooting in Delhi is crying for help. Even as the national Capital gets ready to host India’s biggest sporting event — the Commonwealth Games — a look at the number of participants in the Inter-School Shooting Championship shows that the Delhi State Rifle Association (DSRA) has done precious little to popularise the sport in New Delhi.
Not even a banner greets participants at the entrance of the Siri Fort Sports Complex and the 70-odd participants in the sub-junior and junior categories is a sad reflection of the state of affairs in a state which once bagged the overall title in the nationals but failed to win even a bronze at this year’s nationals in Thodupuzha (Kerala).
“Swine flu has been a big dampener this year,” Harinder Bedi, DSRA president, said. When HT visited the Siri Fort Complex on Saturday, DSRA officials outnumbered the shooters. “We send invitations to schools…but shooting culture does not seem to be catching on here. Parents still have misgivings about the sport,” he said.
But a chat with old-timers brought forth a different picture. “There is hardly any initiative on the part of the DSRA to popularise the sport. They have increased the membership fees from Rs 7,500 to Rs 10,000 and there is no shortage of funds. There are so many members now, so why is the DSRA not popularising the sport. They don’t even have their own range,” said a former shooter.
Bedi said the funds were barely enough to pay for organising the tournament. Interestingly, the shooters are charged Rs 300 for participation.
In sharp contrast is the scenario in Maharashtra. More than 600 youngsters participated in the inter-school in May and the organisers are looking at increased numbers next year. “The Maharashtra State Rifle Association (MSRA) has tied up with the School Games Federation of Maharashtra and we have volunteers who approach schools and distribute forms. The Department of Sports too is actively involved,” said Sheila Kanungo, MSRA vice-president. “The government gives a 25 per cent weightage in school marks to good performers. This has helped,” she said.
Rewind to Delhi: A borrowed range, no coaching, volunteer programme or paraphernalia. It is apparent where the fault lines lie.