RSPB secretary: 'The intensity to do well sets Railways apart'

Rekha Yadav, the RSPB secretary, says that constant interaction with the sportsmen gave an insight into their expectations from their employers.

The outgoing secretary of the Railways Sports Promotion Board, Rekha Yadav worked to introduce steps which earned her the goodwill of sportsmen from the non-elite sector.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Railways is proud of its legacy in sports – from recruiting promising youngsters to excelling at the competitive level. “The intensity to do well sets Railways apart,” says Rekha Yadav, the outgoing secretary of the Railway Sports Promotion Board.

In her five-year tenure in the world of Indian sport, Yadav worked to introduce steps which earned her the goodwill of sportsmen from the non-elite sector. “Cricket was well established and I looked to understand the needs of the rest of the sporting fraternity in Railways. It was hard to bring in changes but there were some pleasant developments,” she said.

The revival of men's hockey gave Yadav the biggest satisfaction. “We all talk of hockey as being the game with a glorious past and we forget to improve the current status of the players. We resuscitated the hockey academy at Kapurthala and made some fresh recruitments. We won four titles in five years and 11 players from Railways found a place in the core group of the Indian team.”

Constant interaction with the sportsmen gave Yadav an insight into their expectations from the employers. “Their requests, I won't call them demands, were justified. They wanted more competitions and more training camps. We provided them the desired facilities and also increased their diet allowance to Rs 540 per day. It allowed them to stay in peak physical condition for six months in a year because they would be at a camp or a competition. No wonder we had 38 players in the 118-member Indian contingent at the last Olympics,” she pointed out.

The recruitment policy also underwent a change at the Railways. “We offer officer-grade promotion to international medallists. In some cases, we give them double promotion. Also to the support staff. Unless you give proper facilities why would anyone want to join any establishment. In Railways, we have this provision to grant a 330-day special leave which allows sportsmen to attend camps. They can concentrate on their training. Of course, it is performance-related arrangement.”

Yadav emphasised, “Railways boasts of quality hostels, academies, training facilities. We are proud of having promoted women sports in a big way. Women empowerment is a huge step taken by the Railways. Our women wrestlers have done so well. We pick our talent early and groom them, like picking a semi ripe fruit and nurturing it. The best thing is Railways provides employment to players not just from cricket but volleyball, weightlifting, gymnastics, chess, swimming and many more.”

Her new assignment is Additional Commissioner in Employees Provident Fund Organisation. “I leave with fond memories of having interacted with some top sportsperson. Winning their faith was my biggest award because they came to trust the administration.”

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