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SRFI selections off course, again

The Squash Racquet Federation of India has selected the squad for the Qatar Junior Championship, from Saturday to April 10, without calling for trials and keeping the names of the ‘selected’ ones under wraps all through, reports Ajai Masand.

other Updated: Apr 02, 2009 01:12 IST
Ajai Masand

The Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) has selected the squad for the Qatar Junior Championship, from Saturday to April 10, without calling for trials and keeping the names of the ‘selected’ ones under wraps all through.

And that’s not it. A fax sent by SRFI to Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) shows Karan Malik in the Under-17 category, while documents in possession of HT confirm that the boy turned 17 on December 12, 2008.

In fact, the Long Term Development Programme (LTDP) submitted by SRFI to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) also shows that the boy is now 17 years and four months old. Not only that, the participation letter sent by SRFI to QSF and duly endorsed by national coach and Dronacharya Award winner Cyrus Poncha also shows that the boy is not an U-17 player any more. Malik’s mother, Kiran Malik, confirmed that her son had turned 17 in December 2008. "I don’t know which category my son is participating in. The SRFI doesn’t inform us on these issues. Probably, it’s an oversight on the part of the SRFI. His passport has the original date endorsed on it," she said.

What is all the more disconcerting is the fact that no trials were held to select the team despite the QSF sending the invitation last December and Poncha sending the confirmation two months later.

The championship is for both individual and team categories. In the two team events, four players per country are allowed, out of which two U-13 and two U-15 are allowed in the U-15 championship. In the ‘Open’ championship, two U-17 and two seniors are allowed to participate. Ravi Dixit and Paramit Singh already make up the ‘Open’ category, leaving Karan as the odd man out.

“This is sheer double standards,” says squash player Divij Singh’s father, Vijay Singh. Singh after lodging complaints with the Sports Ministry, Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the government observer for squash was forced to approach the Delhi High Court to get a fair selection trial for his son.

“The SRFI has not cared to follow its own selection criteria. They are selecting players without trials. They have bypassed the entire Senior Nationals results to choose the team from U-17 and U-19. I came to know about it by chance and filed a petition in the High Court against SRFI, SAI and Sports Ministry.”

In the ‘Open’ category, it’s strange that India’s top players like Saurav Ghohsal, Siddharth Suchde, Ritwik Bhattacharya, Sandeep Jhangra and the likes have reportedly been bypassed and second or third rung players like Ravi Dixit and Paramit Singh included.

Poncha could not be contacted despite repeated efforts, while SRFI’s foreign consultant S Maniam said he had nothing to do with the selections.