SAI Director General summons regional heads

The SAI DG claimed that the meeting, here, on Friday was to “review food, hygiene, safety, training and infrastructure issues. SAI must have the highest standards to ensure the development of sports and athletes.”

Neelam Kapur added that there will be an overhaul of the SAI catering system. (File Photo)   -  PTI

In an attempt to revamp the work culture at its Regional Centres, the Sports Authority of India Director General Neelam Kapur summoned the regional heads from all over the country to take stock of the conditions.

The SAI DG claimed that the meeting, here, on Friday was to “review food, hygiene, safety, training and infrastructure issues. SAI must have the highest standards to ensure the development of sports and athletes.”

Taking a serious note of a recent sexual harassment incident and complaints of sub-standard food being served to the national hockey team at the ongoing camp in Bengaluru, Kapur said, “This is unacceptable. From now, the regional head will be held responsible for every incident at his/her centre. We are looking to instil a sense of confidence among our trainees and it will be done with greater accountability from the coaches and the officials posted at these centres.”

Kapur made it clear that “athletes, especially those who fall in the category of minors, will be assured of our support. We want to encourage them by coming forward with their complaints and not suffer in silence. The athletes at camps are our responsibility and we are going to make a collective effort to make them feel at home at these camps.”

READ: SAI orders performance review, surprise checks after Bengaluru fiasco

She added that there will be an overhaul of the catering system. “Fresh bids are being invited from caterers. We will serve good quality food, on the lines suggested by the nutritionists, and I have given instructions that the coach of the team would taste the food before the athletes. We will have a frequent review of the facilities – food, security and infrastructure – and fix responsibilities. The results will be seen soon.”

As a policy, the SAI, henceforth, has decided to introduce more interactions with the athletes and campers. “They are free to write to me or call me if they have suggestions or complaints. There will be a dedicated team of officials to address such issues.”

To prove her point, Kapur, following a brief interaction with boxer Mary Kom at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, impromptu sanctioned a fitness machine used universally for “recovery” process. “It is a very helpful machine. Easy to operate and very essential for recovery during camps and competitions,” requested Kom. The SAI DG took note and responded, “We can order it at the earliest.”

Kapur visited the boxing camp ahead of the women pugilists departure for the Ulaanbaatar Cup in Mongolia. The sparring session saw the boxers engaged in an intense activity under the guidance of a team of coaches, headed by Raffaele Bergamasco and mental trainer Bhawna Chauhan, who helps the athletes in quick recovery from injuries and defeats.