AITA secretary, Anil Khanna took his federation’s stance against Apollo Tyres further by telling a press conference on Tuesday, “We don’t see Apollo getting India a Grand Slam champion. We have a fair idea what has been done so far.” The AITA has issues with the company’s Mission 2018 tennis junior development programme.
Reiterating what was printed in HT on Monday, Khanna said: “What we want to know is whether the 10 crores per annum being spent is actually going towards the creation of a champion. My concern is whether Apollo has a roadmap in hand to get to their goal which is being splashed all over the magazines and TV.”
On the query as to why AITA was bothered if Apollo was taking an initiative and gaining publicity through advertisements, Khanna said: “We have nothing against them but the way they are advertising should stop.” In response to the AITA salvo, Apollo fired one of its own. “As a corporate, we are answerable to our shareholders, the Board and the children who are being trained. We are not bound to give spending details,” Avik Chattopadhyay, Apollo spokesperson, told PTI.
Khanna insisted that Mahesh Bhupathi was not the target of the federation’s ire though there have been enough indications to the contrary in the past. Khanna also looked to protect his turf by trying to check the movement of players from less professional setups to better training regimes. “We are coming up with many academies and we want poaching to stop,” he said alluding to the moving away of Saurabh Singh from Khanna’s DLTA to Apollo programme.
Despite its abysmal record of trying to nurture juniors, Khanna insisted that Apollo should meet AITA so that it could guide corporates on “spending money judiciously”. The AITA secretary went on to outline the formula: “It is in the best interest of tennis that all organisations willing to spend money on the sport join hands.” Khanna was on the dot when he pointed out that money alone cannot produce players and that a pyramid structure was essential. That’s exactly the structure that AITA has been unable to build in its existence of over 60 years.