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2018 CWG: Basketball teams’ preparation plans go haywire due to visa issues

Basketball Federation of India (BFI) had planned to send the Indian men’s and women’s teams to Gold Coast Cthree weeks in advance to acclimatise and play warm-up matches ahead of 2018 Commonwealth Games

other sports Updated: Mar 21, 2018 12:56 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Indian men’s basketball team head coach Rajinder Singh and women’s coach Shiba Maggon are among those who have not got visas to travel to 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Indian men’s basketball team head coach Rajinder Singh and women’s coach Shiba Maggon are among those who have not got visas to travel to 2018 Commonwealth Games.(HT Photo)

With basketball included in the Commonwealth Games schedule only for the second time after Melbourne 2006, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) had planned to send both the men’s and women’s teams to Gold Coast three weeks in advance to acclimatise and play warm-up matches.

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However, their plan has gone haywire as five players, including four men, senior coaches and team officials are stranded in New Delhi since last week as they haven’t got visas to travel to Australia. This has left the BFI in a piquant situation where 19 out of 24 players have reached Australia while a majority of the coaches are in India.

It is learnt that the men’s team head coach Rajinder Singh and women’s coach Shiba Maggon are among those who have not got visas.

The contingent was scheduled to reach the Runaway Bay Super Sports Centre in Gold Coast on March 12. The plan was to continue their training camp, which was going on at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in Bangalore, and also play some exposure matches with local outfits before the start of the tournament proper on April 5.

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“The plan has gone haywire because of five of them not getting visas. We are trying to make the most of the available resources and the (stranded) coaches are sending players (who have reached Australia) their training schedule on email,” said BFI secretary-general Chander Mukhi Sharma, over phone from New Delhi.

“We all applied for visas at the same time but don’t know why some of us didn’t get it. We paid in advance for the team’s stay in Gold Coast and are now losing money,” added Sharma.

He said the BFI is coordinating with the Indian Olympic Association as no information is forthcoming from the Australian Consulate. As the contingent was on an exposure trip, the BFI made its own arrangements, as the Gold Coast facilities will be available only from March 25.

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“We are hoping the issue is resolved soon and the training is back on track,” said Sharma.

The Indian men’s team is in Pool B along with England, Cameroon and Scotland and will play its preliminary-round matches in Townsville. The women’s team is in Pool B alongside New Zealand, Jamaica and Malaysia. Both teams are confident of clearing the first hurdle and reaching the qualifying finals round.

IOA officials couldn’t be reached for comments.