Is the new Union Sports Minister going the way his predecessors have? This question may raise eyebrows in one section but to those into active sports, it appears to be a logic-driven doubt. A tragedy of Indian sports administrators is that there has never been a Sports Minister, who could understand the nuances inside out.
Almost everyone, who occupied the exalted post, has come a cropper, at some stage of the tenure. The common refrain has been that politicisation of sports is destroying the nation’s prospects and the only solution is in bringing in a person who has been there and done that.
Quite apparently, this theory has boomeranged if one goes by the latest gaffe coming from the Ministry. There was tremendous excitement when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was pitch-forked on to the hot seat, effectively ending the tenure of Vijay Goel, who cut a sorry figure when going with the Indian contingent and made a fool of himself by gate-crashing into areas that were barred for officials in Rio. It was ditto with the likes of Ajay Makana and MS Gill.
A shooter par excellence, Rathore perhaps has been, but he cannot hit the bull’s eye outside the shooting range is what comes across clear if one goes by his tweets on Friday. Making a surprise visit to the stadium where the ensuing FIFA Under-17 World Cup is to be hosted is one thing and appointing coaches of the national sport quite another.
In a way, he has exposed his ignorance at the developments that have taken place since the time Roelant Oltmans was sacked unceremoniously for ‘non-performance.’ Hockey India (HI) taking cue from Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had advertised for the post of men team coach.
In his over-enthusiastic zeal and quite uncalled-for haste, Rathore announced that the incumbent women team coach Waltherus Marijne would assume charge as the men coach while Harendra Singh would replace Marijne! It is insanely ridiculous as neither has coached senior men in their lifetime.
The bolt from the blue ‘defies logic’. Legends have termed them right. Ajit Pal Singh contends that the elevation ‘was a senseless decision’; Dhanraj Pillay feels it was a ‘backward step’ while Zafar Iqbal opines that the drama could have been averted.
It is pitiable that at a time when Indian men are not displaying anything extraordinary, Oltmans has been made a scapegoat. It is understandable to make the coach accountable but there should be a limit to the excesses as it ultimately boils down to the players who have to perform on the field.
Take the tragic case of Anil Kumble, who was shown the door not because of his failures but because he was out of the good books of the think-tank and the captain.
It is not that the new appointees do not have any credible standing. They do but expecting Marijn to improve upon Oltmans’ techniques is too ambitious an expectation. After all, he is no Kabir Khan from Chak De! India to be bang on!