BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
“To have faith is a good thing, no doubt. But that faith should rest on a foundation of facts, not emotions,” journalist Ravish Kumar once said. These words ring true as Goa prepares to host the 37th National Games.
Goa’s inability to host the National Games in the past was an embarrassment to the state. However, Gujarat has shown that it could pull together the games in a hundred days. Goa could well be able to do the same as the infrastructure is already in place.
Having infrastructure is one goal achieved and getting the athletes ready is another. It is not just about athletes getting into shape. Goa has to start incentivising and promoting talent because, in the end, it is the number of medals won that matters most.
The success of athletes depends on how well they are prepared by the state associations and this is done through a three-step approach, wherein the government once again comes into the picture.
The first step forward is selection. State associations must write to the Sports Authority of Goa outlining their plans in regard to the pattern of training envisaged and the money required for the same.
SAG then must write to the government outlining how much money should be sanctioned and where it is to be utilised – therein begins the process.
The technical expertise rests with associations while the government steps in with financial support for the training programmes, which normally consist of a ninety-day – forty-five-day non-residential camp and a forty-five-day residential camp to select the best.
Selections for the National Games are normally held based on the athletes’ standing in major ranking tournaments during the last five years; if not, athletes are invited for open selections, which are advertised.
According to reports that have appeared recently, around nineteen state associations have submitted their plans within the stipulated time frame, showcasing their plans to get their athletes ready.
The sooner they write, the faster SAG will be able to process their claim for financial assistance.
By virtue of being the host, Goa participates in all thirty-seven games. In the last National Games in Gujarat, Goa finished thirtieth, winning only five bronze medals in a field of seven thousand athletes from twenty-eight states, eight union territories, a services team and the armed forces.
Definitely not a good result. It is obvious that state associations and their athletes need to put in a lot of work – hard work – and this can be done if we start with sincerity at the top.
Best results can be attained when the best are selected and given the maximum possible training to nurture talent. It is here that those heading state associations will be under scrutiny. Selections will need to be held without a hint of favouritism.
Some associations have recently started conducting state-level games, thereby opening the selection window.
Goa will welcome the monsoons in a few months. But, that should not be looked at as a dampener to preparations or an excuse.
Money is required to host the National Games. Since money was not a problem in Gujarat, it should not be a problem in Goa, because both are ruled by the BJP.
Goa, Bihar and Sikkim finished in that order during the last National Games. Even Pondicherry finished a step ahead of Goa. With the Government of Goa announcing and already having extended support for the development of sports, money cannot be an excuse now.
The onus is now on the state associations and the athletes.