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‘He has no understanding of sport’ – AITA slams sports secretary’s ‘baffling’ suggestions

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has criticised the sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya for making “baffling” suggestions such as hiring Physical Training (PT) teachers to unearth fresh talent and demanding a one-page proposal for two editions of the Olympic Games.

The AITA, along with 10 other national federations (NSFs), had a video conference with sports secretary Julaniya on Thursday to discuss the future course of action amid the COVID-19 shutdown across sports.

AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI that they were “extremely disappointed” by the attitude of Julaniya, who “only talks and does not want to listen”.

Chatterjee said since no agenda was circulated, they went into the meeting thinking the government will ask them what the entire tennis fraternity is doing in lockdown and its expectations from the government. However, none of that happened, according to Chatterjee.

“He said ‘this is a general discussion and everything should be on your finger tips’, including the proposal for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. When I said the proposal for these Olympics have already been submitted, he said ‘don’t send me too many books (papers), I just want one page’. You tell me, can you give proposals for two Olympic Games on one page? He neither wants to read, nor listen,” he explained.

Julaniya, on his part, said the government is obligated to question NSFs.

“When a review takes place every federation is accountable. As NSFs, it is their responsibility is to see that the sport develops and if that doesn’t happen we have every right to question them. If they are unhappy that is their problem. They can accuse us but being in the government it is our responsibility to ensure that the sport develops,” Julaniya told PTI.

Meanwhile, Chatterjee said he was stunned when the sports secretary suggested that PT teachers in schools could help them find fresh tennis talents.

“He has no understanding of sport. I tried to make him understand that in tennis we don’t need to scout, our system is based on rankings. But he said ‘no, you involve PT teachers in school to scout talent, champions will emerge from poor kids at district level'”

Chatterjee said they wanted to talk about the need to revive the national circuit to help the players who are struggling due to the suspension of the ATP, ITF and WTA Tours following the outbreak of coronavirus.

“But he said ‘just talk about Olympics’. I told him you are talking about 2024 and 2028 but what about now when nothing is happening? The Olympics are in 2021 as well. We want to revive and restart our domestic tour after lockdown starting with the zonal tournaments. When we wanted to talk about the Asian Games (2022) he said ‘we are not concerned about regional tournaments’.

“Now you tell me are Asian Games and Commonwealth Games regional events? All sports federations are fed up. You can talk to them. He does not let anyone talk,” Chatterjee added.

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