PRADNYA GADRE skipped her oral tests last week in order to prepare for the Dutch and German junior open badminton championship beginning next month. The 12th standard art student of Pune's SP College took the decision, as she wanted to give her best in what is her first major international outing in the junior circuit.
But the 17-year-old's hopes came crashing down on Friday when she was told that the Sports Ministry had not cleared her name along with three others from the 10-member squad to the twin competitions beginning February 27. "I was very disappointed and my initial reaction was I will stop playing badminton forever," said Pradnya when contacted over phone.
"I skipped my oral examination, which means I lose on 20 marks in my language paper even if I appear for the written exams now (beginning February 28). For me, it's a very big loss," said Pradnya, who was going to team up with Shweta Kelkar in the girls' doubles event in both championships.
Though the Ministry has the final authority to deny financial clearance to any player selected by the association its decision has raised many eyebrows in the aftermath of the recent criticism of their way of functioning by Badminton Association of India president V.K. Verma.
Ministry sources insisted that they had only declined financial support to these players and there was no problem for administrative clearance if someone else was willing to foot their bills.
However, Verma refuted the charge and said the Ministry should not discriminate like this. "As per guidelines, two teams for seniors and one team for juniors is fully funded by the Government for overseas tournament," he said "Then why should they make this discrimination? If the BAI is funding the team then the whole team gets financial support." When asked why the BAI cannot fund the four players' tour, Verma said the national association had never done that before and why should they do that when it was the ministry's responsibility to fund the tour.