Everyone knows that to get rich quickly – through dubious means – one has to contest and win an election and be part of the government. This has now gone further and the new norm is to get elected to a sports association because that is where the money now is.
The ongoing 37th National Games has opened a window which has shown the urgency with which individuals try to gain control of national sports federations (NSF) or local sports associations and this is evident in the number of cases in courts across the country today.
Is it for the love of the sport or the love of sportspeople that they want to administrate sports? No. It is simply because of the money that sports is attracting or rather the money that the government is pouring into and not investing in sports. It was not like this before and hence the urgency to jump into the boat that floats on money. Unfortunately, one cannot die drowning in money.
The ongoing National Games have clearly shown that the intent was to make money at the cost of sports and therefore indirectly at the cost of our sportspeople and all in the name of infrastructure.
The government’s intent became clear in the manner it waited till the very last to release funds and that too with a caveat that players from other States may be imported to finish respectfully on the medal table.
The common refrain of all associations was: ‘We could have done better had we got this equipment before. Now that we have it, we will use it to develop the sport.’
It was obvious that none wanted to complain because that would entail losing financially at a time when most have got the cash. The harvest is good and will be so as long as it lasts.
Crores have been spent and much of it will hardly go through scrutiny but the hurtful part is that peanuts reached the sportspeople of Goa. A cursory look at the medal table indicates that the few sportsperson who won gold or silver medals for Goa did it at their cost or cost of their families. Not the government.
Sadly, even after reaching such heights, the government thinks they are worth Rs 3 lakh or 2 lakh or 1 lakh. Let us forget what athletes in other States are bound to receive because there, the government helped – they have a system in place and hence the number of medals won by them.
Goa may finish with 50 plus medals – counting the medals won from out of state players representing Goa – and it may be the best result ever attained, but were we really the best amongst the best?
In 2015, Talasha Prabhu ruled the swimming pool and she did it because it was her parents who stood by her and not the government. Eight years down the line, we have Sanjana Prabhugaonkar and Shrungi Bandekar who between them won six medals in aquatics. Once again, the hand of the government was missing in their training.
Akanksha Shalunke won the first National Games gold for Goa in squash and soon she will sit on the podium as the best squash player in the world. Her efforts all, but the government will jump to claim credit.
It is said that Goans suffer from a crab mentality but the crab now does not want to pull down the other because he is good but because he thinks that if he pulls down the best, he will be.
It is a sad shift in dynamics that tells a sadder story of the politician in Goa today. Sport is for youngsters of today and the money earmarked is for them, for they are our future. If our understanding of this basic truth is so low, we have a serious problem.
For over seven years, they kept postponing the National Games because they preferred to break and build literally the same infrastructure and in all the time, no one cared about the young sportspeople.
The least our politicians can do is stop robbing from the children.