After BSF Jawan fiasco, national athletes complain about food shortage
Athletes have complained that officials and coaches are eating into their daily quota of certain food items.
What’s the story?
Several athletes have complained to the Sports Ministry that officials and coaches are eating into their daily quota of dry fruits and fresh fruits. Following this complaint, the ministry has instructed the Quality Council of India, a semi-government body, to make on-site assessments of 18 of the 56 Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Sports Secretary Iinjeti Srinivas said, “There have been a few cases where we received anonymous complaints, but action has been taken instantly. We have engaged QCI to assess the centres. They will look into every aspect of running the centres.
“The audit is not just for that (allegations of wrongdoing). We have several parameters and this is one of the points,” he added.
In case you didn’t know…
There are 56 SAI training centres across the country housing 5,394 trainees (3,807 boys and 1,587 girls), all aged between 12 and 18. For all athletes, and particularly those in power sports like boxing and wrestling, dry fruits form an essential part of the diet.
Every athlete is entitled to a government allowance for his daily supplements and diet. The coaches, physiotherapists and, in some cases, nutritionists decide an athlete’s diet requirements at the start of every camp.
The heart of the matter
The said allowance differs from athlete to athlete, it is different for every sport and age group. The government provides the supplies to the caterers at the centre instead of giving the money directly to the athletes. Now, a nexus between the caterers, coaches and officials have been alleged by those in the know.
A majority of the athletes who are missing out on the “kaju and badaam” sponsored by the government at the elite training centres are juniors — most of them wrestlers and discus throwers. They have alleged that the administrators and the coaches pocket at least 50 per cent of their “nutrition quota”.
The coaches too are entitled to their own specific quota of dry fruits. However, according to some SAI officials, some of the coaches have allegedly asked the caterers to give them cash instead of the dry fruits.
The ministry is looking into the matter and is also keen on adopting a ‘Direct Benefit Transfer’ system, under which the money will be directly received by the athletes. 100-150 parameters including food, cleanliness, hygiene, and deployment of coaches will be looked at by the QCI audit.
The sorry state of sports in the country has been highlighted yet again. People talk about winning medals at the Olympics and bringing laurels from other international events but there is a lack of basic supervision at the grass-roots level.
Young, promising athletes need to eat healthily and maintain a proper diet in order to become strong enough to compete at the top-most level. Hopefully, the audit will bring about the change that is required in the country.