World University Games: Athletes left to fend for themselves

There will be no support from the Government or AIU for World University Games.

Mariya Jaison: "I have qualified for the World University Games but I will have to arrange funds for my trip, it comes to more than ₹2 lakh. Our university has said that it will not fund the trip."   -  stan rayan

At a time when she should be fine-tuning her technique for this July’s World University Games at Napoli in Italy, Mariya Jaison is anxiously looking around for funds.

“I have qualified for the World University Games but I will have to arrange funds for my trip, it comes to more than ₹2 lakh. Our university has said that it will not fund the trip,” the 21-year-old pole vaulter, a student of Bengaluru’s Jain University who won the varsities’ Nationals gold with a record in Mangalore in November, told Sportstar on Wednesday.

“I will have to send the first payment of ₹1 lakh for the Italy trip on April 12, that’s just two days away, I don’t know what to do.”

Athletes will be competing under India’s banner at the Games but that will cost each of them ₹2.26 lakh.

“As the Government is not going to extend any financial assistance, the concerned University of the selected players or the players themselves will have to bear the cost of the coaching camp (even coaches’ fees) and other expenses for participation in the Summer Universiade, including the cost of tracksuit and ceremonial dress,” says a communication from Gaganendu Dash, the Director Sports, KIIT Deemed-to-be-University, which held the athletics trials and will be managing the trip to Italy on behalf of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).

“Some of the universities like Punjab are paying for their athletes, we are paying for our sprinter Dutee Chand (Asian Games silver medallist) who is also in the team. Many private universities are also paying for their athletes,” said Gaganendu from Bhubaneswar.

“But most of the universities have said that they don’t have funds, in that case, students will have to bear the cost. But the AIU and the Government of India will not be paying anything.”

Calls and messages to Baljit Singh Sekhon, AIU’s Joint Secretary (Youth Affairs and Sports), went unanswered.

Disappointed

Mariya is disappointed, but she has not lost hope.

“Our university has said that it will not fund the trip. Even if they can’t give the full amount, they could have at least part-funded my trip, say some 50 or 60 per cent,” said Mariya.

Incidentally, the Union Sports Ministry had upgraded university sports to the ‘priority category’ four years ago.

But that may not mean anything to the university athletes, the country’s future.