While the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) is leaving no stone unturned to paint a rosy picture for the 37th National Games, Goa is not likely to attain much success on the field in terms of medals with sports associations complaining of neglect.
“We were made to starve for financial aid for six months. And after giving us the funds towards the end, they expect us to swallow as much as we can. We are trying our best, but it is too late to expect results,” is the anonymous reflection of Goa’s performance from October 25 to November 9, 2023.
Goa finished third-last or 30th during the 36th National Games in Gujarat, with five bronze medals – just two places above bottom-placed Sikkim which claimed one bronze medal.
With on-field preparations just starting, many think finishing at the halfway mark will be an accomplishment.
Goa won bronze in gymnastics, boxing, mallakhamb, swimming and beach volleyball during the last National Games, where the hosts finished twelfth.
Goa may retain or improve on some of these performances, according to officials of these associations. Better results could have been envisioned had “the government laid emphasis on sportspeople instead of unnecessarily wasting money on infrastructure already in place.”
“I begged for funds to get coaches, and the sports minister was unable to help. Goa at one stage was the number two state in India, and we could have expected a better medal than last time,” N V Kurade, the secretary of Goa Mallakhamb Association told Gomantak Times Digital.
“Without coaches, it is very difficult to get the athletes in shape, because the rules of this game are occasionally fine-tuned. The coaches know best how to train. I am sure we will get a medal again, but I was equally optimistic that we could have done better,” added Kurade.
If Kurade is demoralised, Goa Volleyball Association (GVA) secretary Hugo Gonsalves thinks that Goa has a chance of not just winning the men’s and women’s beach volleyball medals, but the regular men’s volleyball team is in the running for a medal too.
“We did not wait for the government funds. We started our training two months back, and I am positive we will get three medals out of four in volleyball. With financial assistance in time, we could be forecasting gold medals,” said a confident Gonsalves.
“A non-residential camp was started a month back, and the residential camp is expected to start in a few days. Our boxer Prahlad is in contention for getting a medal,” quipped the Goa Amateur Boxing Association secretary Mukhtar Amlani, who is also trying to clean the association of cobwebs.
Coach Abhijit Nimbalkar won a bronze in gymnastics during the last national games, and Goa’s preparation in this sport, as like most other sports, has not got off to a proper start due to lack of funds for training, which were released by SAG just a few days back.
“We started our coaching quite a while back but were unable to get coaches for the boys due to lack of funds. We have the money now, but the coaches are not available, so we will make do with what we can,” said Sunil Morajkar of the Billiards and Snooker Association.
With the grants for sportspeople being released late, work is going on overtime at the Duler Sports Complex near Mapusa. Though the wooden flooring is yet to be fitted in the main arena, the boxing complex is being fitted with new air conditioners.
The hockey Astroturf ground has been ready for a while but has yet to get the feel of practice sessions. Many associations are trying to rope in outstation coaches for their athletes, but the delay will definitely be felt in the final medal tally.