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‘Nothing grows under a banyan tree’


India came out of its shadow during the Asian Games in Indonesia and through it could be seen the silhouette of Goa. Along with the haul of medals was a basket of adjectives and as Team India reached home a chord of discontent began to buzz in Goa.

The Asian Games had a different hue for Goa due to the participation of siblings Dayne of Katya Coelho. The duo represented India in windsurfing and just getting a chance to be there was a big achievement. Had they won, the Asian Games of Jakarta would have been spoken about beyond future Games.

Yet, things did not work out as expected and the hype of participation was overcrowded by cries of neglect. Suddenly, social media was abuzz with stories of how the government of Goa and Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) failed these two.

Let us keep emotions aside and break the theories that have been doing rounds.

Pictures of letter written by Dayne to SAG requesting finances for equipment since 2015 are being circulated. Not one or two letters but dozens–letters addressed to all SAG directors since the time of Sandip Jacques. The letters are ostensibly being circulated to show that despite the numerous letters, through many years, SAG has failed to provide grants to the athletes for the purchase of equipment.

The letters written in the past and what has happened now has no direct relevance. The truth is that both siblings failed to make a mark during the Asian Games and the lack of proper equipment is being attributed.

Dayne and Katya were selected to represent India by the Yatching Association of India (YAI) and YAI was dealing directly with the IOA on behalf of all athletes selected. Hence, it was the duty of YAI to give the Goan siblings all they needed to star during the Asian Games. Therefore pointing fingers at SAG or the government of Goa rekindles the old saying: you are pointing four fingers at yourself when you try to point one at others.

Reports have appeared in a section of the media that the father of the athletes had to rush to another country to get sails for his kids. I am not a windsurfer but find it hard to digest that the parent of Indian participants had to fly to another place to get sailing boards or sails for his children. If this is true, India’s tally of medals is meaningless. It is shameful for two reasons. One because the parent had to go to another county and two because no equipment was found available near to where the event was being hosted.

There have been occasions when the Coelhos have received financial assistance from SAG through the efforts of their MLA Michael Lobo. It is not that they have been always ignored by the government or any of its machineries.

However, the issue of Coelhos would not have taken this shape had it not been for the funding released for Rahul Prabudesai by SAG. The problem starts and ends here.

To begin with , it is still not clear whether any or both the Coelho siblings had applied for financial assistance through the scheme Rahul lay his hands on roughly around Rs 23 lakhs for something he attempted. Rahuls was a case where he tried, failed and got paid for it.

Did the Coelhos apply for the scheme before the Asian Games? If not, can they not at least apply now so as to prepare themselves for the Olympics- if they managed to maintain their form to get selected?

Going by the largesse demonstrated by SAG to a failed attempt, the Coelho siblings look right in the spot light.

Mark Tully and Satish Jacob had in the concluding part of their book- Amritsar Mrs Gandhis Last Battle written – nothing grows under a banyan tree. Sports Authority of Goa headed by Prabhudesai appears to be taking the shape of that banyan tree Mark and Satish were referring to in the book.

The SAG appears to be slipping from distribution of funds to handing over extension of contracts to people who have retired. Now, some SAG employees and athletes are upset that a file has been moved by the SAG Executive Director for extension of services of one Hemant Angle.

The SAG has twenty odd cricket coaches in its muster and there are sports with no coaches and sports that need coaches and yet SAG thinks it fit to award an extension in a sport where there is a surplus of coaches. This is absurd.

Talking about the banyan tree the mind turns towards ‘transparency’ being preached by the Goa Football Association. The GFA has been rationalising the delay in holding elections to the implementation of the National Sports Code. Yet, the GFA thinks its transparency cannot be seen through when its secretary decides to stand for elections in a body that has yet to implement the National Sports Code.

Or, is this the case of a banyan tree that needs to be worshipped?

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