Shravani Gaude will be the only Goan to have represented the state in three different sports at the national level when Goa begins its women’s netball campaign at the 37th National Games, whilst Goan boxers will be left boxing thin air as the Goa Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) has decided to field a majority of outsiders, despite the government specifically enlisting a 70–30 quota.
Shravani, according to senior sources in the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), has already represented Goa in Kabaddi and Lagori at the nationals. “She is an upcoming player, having excelled in higher secondary level competition,” stated netball coach Samir Naik.
“I was not part of the selection committee. I am coaching the players entrusted to me by the selection committee,” shot back Naik, when asked whether Shravani being the daughter of Sports Minister Govind Gaude reflected on her selection.
The 37th National Games have got off to a distasteful start due to reasons that could have easily been avoided had the spotlight been on sports people and not administrators.
The campaign has started on a sombre note with allegations that Goa Badminton Association (GBA) brushed aside local talent in favour of players from other States based on the 70:30 formula of the Goa government, but boxers in Goa are shocked that half of the Goa contingent of boxers comprise outsiders contrary to the government order.
From amongst the seven men’s boxers selected for Goa, just two are local boys whilst in the women category three out of six are from Goa. Three boxers – two men and a lady – have in their letters to the government expressed anguish in the manner the association has sidelined them.
“Candidates who are not even true Goans, neither by State nor domicile, are being chosen to represent Goa. This raises questions about the selection process and whether local talent is being given a fair chance,” states one letter sourced during investigation.
“The aim of representing the State should be to show case the best local talent, and it is disheartening to see the Goan is to outsider ratio of 7:3 objective being potentially compromised with the exact opposite,” wrote another boxer in his letter.
Boxers from Goa, after having been part of boxing camps for the National Games since July, point fingers alleging mala fide intention against vice president Lenny Gama who is expected to complete 70 years in November and will thereafter be ineligible – as per the National Sports Code to be adopted by all sports associations after the National Games – to be associated with the association.
Boxers allege that a boxer from Haryana has been selected to represent Goa and that GABA has even managed to get an Aadhar card for him stating he is from Goa. “He does not even have domicile in Goa,” claimed a boxer.
“I and other candidates are subjected to rigorous practices and training, including intense body work outs and strict monitoring of body weight. While I understand the importance of discipline and preparation in sports, it has come to a point where these practices often lead me to burn outs. The combination of intense training and strict dietary restrictions has taken a toll on me, both physically and mentally,” read a letter written by a sidelined Goan boxer to the government.
Fielding non-Goans in the badminton team is explained thus by Narahar Thakur, president of Goa Badminton Association (GBA): “We got players from outside into the team in the spirit that they would boost the overall performance of the full contingent. The idea was never to subjugate our players. It was to enhance their play and see whether we could pluck in a few medals to boost our standing as we are the hosts.”
Unfortunately, money and ego now seems to be firmly toeing sports, leaving sportspeople waiting for rain in the desert.