The sports ministry's diktat of not extending financial assistance to athletes who prefer professional tournaments over representing the country, a move targeted at India's top tennis pros who played on the ATP circuit instead of the Asian Games, has left Leander Paes shocked.
Paes, who has been representing the Tri-colour for over two decades now, feels his patriotism cannot be doubted. "I play for the country wherever I play. Whether in our individual capacity or while officially representing India, we are always ambassadors of our country. After so many years of playing for the flag, I don't have to justify my commitment to the tri-colour," said Paes.
"I don't want to say anything which will be taken out of context. But anybody who has followed my career knows my heart beats for India." Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman decided to skip the Asian Games to concentrate on the ATP Tour to gain ranking points.
Putting the whole thing into context the point is that small continental events like the Asian Games need not figure to high in the career goals of a pro athlete who wins Grand Slams for India.
Anyway, the amount of NSDF money coming to tennis is negligible. The ministry first needs to sort its own house as far as allotment of NSDF is concerned before asking pro athletes to follow its diktat.