Even after all the hullabaloo that is created about it, sports are no holy cow in Punjab. The state is organising Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Games, in which around 8,000 players from all over Punjab are participating in as many as 22 events.
It has come to the fore that the sports department of Punjab has a mere seven permanent coaches for training tomorrow’s budding players. This clearly reveals the double-faced attitude of the government as it claims to promote sports to all appearances.
A total of 22 events, including swimming, hockey, badminton, shooting, weightlifting, football, handball, basketball, cycling, gymnastics, archery, volleyball, kho kho, athletics, roller-skating, discus throw, 10m walk and pole vault are being held under the banner of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Games.
Tug of war, which was relegated to only the demo matches, does not have even a single permanent coach in the state. As per available information, shooting has only one permanent coach while three have been hired on contract. Even badminton has only one permanent coach and six have been hired on contract.
At present, there are a total of 160 coaches hired on contract in the state.
In the absence of professional coaches in the department, budding players are forced to go and join private academies, which take a hefty fee, out of bounds for most aspiring players.
A player participating in the games said, “What is the point of organising these games when there are no coaches and it is not possible for aspiring players from economically weaker section to avail the services of private academies. Aspirants are left with no other option.”
Players, who were here to participate in the games, said many games were being endangered in the absence of coaches.
Punjab deputy director sports Rahul Gupta said, “A total of 230 permanent coaches will be appointed by the department within a month. In addition, a total of 125 eminent sportspersons will be appointed in the police department and they will also provide coaching to aspiring players.”