Confusion prevails as warring factions of SGFI go ahead to conduct National School Games competitions

Sushil Kumar's SGFI presidency reign came to an abrupt and he is now in prison (Picture Courtesy: ANI)
Sushil Kumar's SGFI presidency reign came to an abrupt and he is now in prison (Picture Courtesy: ANI)
Navneet Singh

Warring factions of the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) are yet to put their house in order. However, both factions will go ahead and ahead to conduct competitions for the 2021-2022 season. The education departments of the states in India are affiliated units of the SGFI. The 2020 season was disrupted due to Covid-19.

Earlier this week, one of the SGFI’s factions, whose general secretary is Vijay Santan from Maharashtra, issued a circular. It said that a 66th National School Games competition in various disciplines will commence in December.

It is quite confusing as both factions of SGFI are fighting a court case and are claiming to be genuine, according to a coach of the Delhi Education Department.

“We are confused which faction is genuine. Since both factions are fighting a court case, the government does not recognize SGFI. The certificates issued by the SGFI will not be recognized by the government departments for jobs,” said the coach of Delhi Education Department.

As per circular of the one of the factions, competition will be conducted in three age groups—under-14, under-17 and under-19 from December across India. The Delhi Education Department has been allotted competitions in various disciplines including athletics (U-19 group).

Since schools are yet to reopen due to the pandemic in Delhi, it is uncertain how the Delhi Education Department will select its team. The coach added:

“Delhi team is selected through Inter-Zone competitions. Since schools are closed Inter-Zonal competitions couldn’t be conducted. We haven’t got any instruction from the department regarding the selection of the teams."

Sushil Kumar is the SGFI president

In December 2020 one of the SGFI’s faction conducted its elections. The December elections didn’t go for SGFI. Their president, Sushil Kumar, India’s double Olympic medallist in wrestling, wasn’t re-elected as president of SGFI. He alleged manipulation.

In March this year, on the intervention of the sports ministry, the elections of SGFI were conducted again in Delhi. Sushil Kumar was re-elected president. Vijay Santan from Maharashtra was elected general secretary. All the candidates were unanimously elected.

The sports ministry declared the previous elections held in December 2020 as null and void, as was not conducted as per the 2011 National Sports Code. The other faction, whose general secretary is Alok Khare, went to court. Both factions have been circulating calendars and claim to be genuine.

In May, Sushil Kumar was allegedly involved in a murder case of a young wrestler within the campus of the Chhatrasal Stadium, which is under the Delhi Education Department.

He is behind bars and had to quit his SGFI post. Asar Pal Singh, one of the vice presidents of SGFI, was elevated to the post of working president of the group. Despite repeated efforts, Asar Pal Singh wasn’t available for comment on the SGFI calendar for the 2021-2022 season.

Also Read: Nanhi wins gold in 400m hurdles: Why she can be the trailblazer for the next-gen Indian athletes

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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