Saluting the Code

Sportstar spoke to a few sportspersons on the Sports Code and its relevance in the present time. And this is what they had to say.

Joaquim Carvalho... “The best way forward for a sports federation is to become more efficient, attract corporate funding and become less dependent on the Government.”   -  K. Murali Kumar

A nine-member committee, set up by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in January this year, has made several recommendations for drawing up a comprehensive code across all sports in the country. Among the proposals put forward by the panel are: limiting the size of the office-bearers and governing board members of the IOA and the National Sports Federations, a cap on the age and tenure of the office-bearers and debarring ministers and government officials in service from taking up posts in any sports body.

READ: The way forward for sports federations

The latest version of the National Sports Development Code, which aims to bring in transparency, accountability and good governance, is expected to have a huge impact on sports administration in India. Sportstar spoke to a few sportspersons on the Sports Code and its relevance in the present time. And this is what they had to say.

Joaquim Carvalho

(Indian hockey: 1984 Olympics; former India coach)

The National Sports Development Code will definitely make our sports bodies cleaner. People ruling sports federations in the country have made them their fiefdom. Genuine sportspersons, who are eager to come to sports administration, do not get a chance because of this.

The restrictions on age and tenure (of office-bearers) are necessary. A sportsperson retires after reaching a certain age; he is dropped if he is not performing to a certain level, and he faces action if he is not disciplined. So why should the officials governing sports organisations not face certain restrictions?

New people will bring in new ideas. There should be more sportspersons in sports administration. Otherwise, the presence of a few sportspersons in a federation is not going to help.

The RTI is an important tool for bringing in transparency. But there should be a provision to make it more potent and whatever information is sought (by an RTI applicant) should be shared.

The best way forward for a sports federation is to become more efficient, attract corporate funding and become less dependent on the Government. But that does not mean there should be no stipulation on the federations. Look at where the BCCI is today despite its financial independence.

Venkatesan Devarajan

(Boxing: 1994 World Cup bronze medal)

It’s good for the development of sports in our country. The clause regarding the age and tenure (of office-bearers) is bound to give chance to new people who can bring in new ideas for the better functioning of the sports bodies.

The boxing federation is an ideal example. Earlier, the federation (Indian Amateur Boxing Federation) was headed by Abhay Singh Chautala, and it did well to some extent. Now after the disturbance, the new body, the Boxing Federation of India, under the leadership of Ajay Singh, is doing a very good job. New people bring in new ideas, and this helps an organisation run in a better way. There will be no sense of complacency as they will work enthusiastically.

The sports federations must work for the development of its athletes by employing top coaches to groom youngsters at the grass-roots level.

Venkatesan Devarajan... “If the sports bodies come under the RTI Act, then they will think twice before doing anything that is not proper.”   -  Sandeep Saxena

If the sports bodies come under the RTI Act, then they will think twice before doing anything that is not proper. A lot of things today are done according to the whims and fancies of certain people. For example, in several organisations (which give employment to sportspersons), cricketers doing well in a World Cup are treated better than other sportspersons achieving glory in a World Championship or a World Cup.

The RTI provision will also help solve issues pertaining to selection for important meets and competitions. The provision for appointing an ombudsman — if it works — should be there. I also welcome the idea of barring ministers and government employees from taking up posts in sports bodies. They should rather focus on public service.

Joydeep Karmakar

(Shooting: 2010 World Cup silver medal, 2012 Olympics fourth in 50m rifle prone)

For several decades sports has been run without proper guidelines. There are thousands of loopholes and people thrive on that.

The guidelines in the Sports Code should be properly implemented and it should be closely monitored. The Sports Code should ensure that athletes and administrators work together.

No system or code is foolproof. It may so happen that 90 per cent of the system will be in order and most of the people will follow the code properly. That is good enough. There should be penal action against those who violate the code.

There is nepotism in every sphere of life, including sports. We cannot really get rid of that. You see people who occupy a chair for a long period and make way for their sons or daughters or any other family member. I do not know whether it is right to prevent anyone from taking up any post just because he is coming from a certain family. The other side is that since some families are dedicated to a particular sport, they have the knowledge, expertise and passion to work for the betterment of that sport. In such a case, it is not unfair for a family to hold power. If it is done with the sole motive of keeping the chair within one family, and if there is a conflict of interest, then it should be discouraged.

A sports body should not be like an office without a CCTV. The RTI will help in making people responsible and answerable.

The proposal to have an ombudsman is another positive development, which will help the sports bodies to function in a better way.

Making a minister or a politician the head of a sports organisation is both good and bad. Sometimes a minister’s influence helps in getting things done. We can copy the best features of sports regulations from other countries, but we must put them to use in the Indian context.

Ashwini Nachappa

(Athletics: 1990 Asian Games, 4x100m relay silver medal)

A sports code is very much needed. More importantly, I feel we need to enforce it through legislation. It has to be in the form of a bill. Sports is in the States Subjects list. So unless it is in the form of a bill, some states may say they will implement and some may say no. So there needs to be some regulation behind the entire exercise.