Board Sailing Association of India (BSAI) has a breath of fresh air in its president Gopal Amin, manoeuvring the association’s sails and changing course in the right direction. The winds seem to be directing the fortunes of windsurfing in India towards Goa. ‘Goa is the state that has contributed the most to windsurfing in India in terms of talent and natural resources,’ Gopal Amin told Gomantak Times in an exclusive interview.
‘Goa is the best in windsurfing from the civilian perspective as it has a beautiful landscape for the sport and an individual like Cesar Menezes, who does not think twice before sponsoring the sport, not just in Goa, but India too,’ admits Gopal.
‘We need sailors and equipment for windsurfing to succeed. I know equipment is inaccessible to many now, but that could be worked out if parents allowed their children to participate,’ thinks Gopal, who shares the opinion that windsurfing is looked at as, and to a great extent is, the game of the rich.
‘Parents need to invest their children’s time if they expect us to invest in equipment and coaching. Parents are averse to sending their kids to learn windsurfing because they see no financial future for their wards,’ reasons Gopal.
‘The priority of the new committee is to get new equipment and the right type of equipment as it keeps evolving quickly. When we think of buying new equipment, one has to think of raising funds to do the same,’ says Gopal, as he sips a chocolate shake after a race in Dona Paula.
If getting windsurfing boards and sails is difficult, finding coaches to train youngsters appears even more difficult. ‘We do not have enough sailors in India who are capable of being trained to be coaches and that is why we have to look for foreign coaches to train our athletes,’ asserts Gopal, who is a businessman from Pune.
Gopal, who took up windsurfing as an adventure sport, says, ‘Apart from not having good sailors who we can train to be good coaches, we lack a system in India where coaches can be trained to prepare athletes to participate at international events.’
‘The association will need to develop an ecosystem wherein professionals are trained to guide youngsters and welcome them to windsurfing. It’s just been a month that I have taken over as president, and we need to have a think tank on the way forward,’ confesses Gopal.
‘I believe the government is encouraging all sports in the country, and I need to study what the government has to offer windsurfing, and what are the needs of windsurfers in India, so that a plan can be drawn for the country to benefit in terms of laurels and for the surfers to benefit from what the government is offering,’ says Gopal thoughtfully, as he stretches, conditioning his body after a race.
‘I was not aware that some governments in some states provide infrastructure to windsurfers in terms of boards and sails. It is great if that is happening and for sure the association can try asking for similar assistance in other states,’ opines Gopal.
‘There are people who criticise us for only focusing on winning medals for the country. Criticism is good, but I personally think it will be better if they tell us how they want us to improve the situation. They should tell us what they want so that we can tell them whether it is possible or not. Like that, no one is wasting each other’s time,’ says Gopal.
‘I know from my experience that windsurfing is a beautiful sport. The sport has constraints like being expensive and not accessible to all. I believe there should be a way out. We all need to sit together with the government and find ways to get the best people to access the sport,’ reflects Gopal sagaciously.
‘I think, to start with, we must look at windsurfing as an adventure sport and enjoy it first as a hobby. The rest will sail in,’ says Gopal with a broad grin.