Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 6
The Punjab Sports Department has invited applications from the state’s athletes and coaches who are eligible for cash awards for two seasons — 2018-19 and 2019-20.
However, the newspaper advertisement put out by Punjab’s Director of Sports in this regard has caused confusion among athletes and coaches, who are concerned by the reference to the “cash award policy-2019” notification in the advertisement.
According to the advertisement — published on October 28, 2020 — the “cash award policy-2019” has been made available on the Sports Department’s website. The notification has also been sent by the office of the Director Sports to the district sports officers.
What has left many coaches and athletes surprised and disappointed is that the notification, in its eligibility clause, has no mention of junior events, including the Youth Olympics, World Championships and World Cups.
The eligible tournaments range from state and national to international events, including the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games, Senior National Championships, All India Inter-University Championships and State Games. However, the list does not include junior events. The only junior event included in the list is the National School Games/Khelo India School Games, but there is no mention of the World School Games. Intriguingly, included in the list are the Afro-Asian Games, which were held only once, in 2003.
Director Sports DPS Kharbanda confirmed that the Sports Department has received funds for the cash awards. “We have received Rs 15 crore and we have invited applications from the athletes and coaches who are eligible for the cash awards,” said Kharbanda.
When asked about the lack of mention of the junior events in the notification, Kharbanda said the notification — which is dated July 30, 2019 — is “old” and the department has put out an advertisement in this regard. “The letter is old. We have put out a newspaper advertisement so that anyone who has not been paid yet can apply,” Kharbanda said.
There is no mention of the junior events in the advertisement either. The advertisement refers to the 2018 Sports Policy and the 2019 notification. The advertisement says that “according to this policy”, athletes and coaches will get cash awards for medals won in “state, national and international” events in “2018-19 (01-04-2018 to 31-03-2019) and 2019-20 (01-04-2019 to 31-03-2020)”.
‘Support for junior athletes’
“It is very disappointing. They are neglecting the junior athletes,” said a coach from Punjab. “It is the junior athletes who need greater support. The juniors need these cash awards more as they do not have jobs like the senior athletes. Most of the juniors rely on their families for monetary support. Their diet and equipment cost the same. Punjab should look at Haryana’s policy,” the coach added.
Haryana’s sports policy has a separate clause, which says that “cash award to Junior and Sub-junior categories for World/Asian/Commonwealth/National Championships/Cups” will be given at 75% and 50% of the amount fixed for the senior events. Haryana’s policy also includes cash awards for veteran and specially-abled athletes, which is missing from the Punjab notification.
A senior coach from Punjab said that though these cash awards are a great help, these do not provide adequate support during the developmental phase of an athlete. “The perfect scenario would be to fix monthly stipends for the junior athletes,” the senior coach said.