High Time SAI Made More Professional!

The issue of “below par” quality food being served in one of the prominent Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres, Bengaluru, came to the fore after it was highlighted by Indian men’s chief coach Harendra Singh.

The issue is not just about poor quality food, but also about the lack of hygiene in preparing consumables.

Harendra’s letter to Hockey India gives an idea about how bad is the situation.

He pointed out that the food was being prepared with “excessive oil and fat” and there was bone without meat. Also, “insects, bugs and hair” were found in the food served to the players who play for the country at top international events.

According to Harendra, the low quality food affected the players’ performance. “Recently we conducted (sic) all 48 athletes blood test and many athlete blood report are found so many food-related deficiencies which is a hindrance for them to perform at optimum level.”

The lack of hygiene is quite disturbing. “The kitchen utensils which are used to prepare food are unhealthy,” he claimed.

The ‘I don’t care attitude’ of the SAI staff was shocking. In his letter, Harendra pointed out that during his visit to the centre prior to the Commonwealth Games Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had instructed the person concerned to get everything in order within 48 hours.

However, there was no change till the hockey team’s head coach raised the issue on June 9.

After the topic got flashed in newspapers following the intervention of the Indian Olympic Association, the SAI authorities woke up and took stock of the situation at various centres.

It is just not about the hockey players as the Bengaluru centre also houses several athletes from other disciplines.

The moot point is how can the quality of food drop from a certain standard, when the Government is spending a lot on the athletes’ food and nutrition?

Does it not smack of greed and corruption?

The audacity to prepare and serve poor quality food and the lack of hygiene speaks about the lackadaisical attitude of the people working in the SAI.

It also points towards the apathetic attitude of the people who are at the decision-making level in the SAI — a bureaucratic set-up filled with control freak officials instead of facilitators for the benefit of sports and sportspersons.

After taking over as the Sports Minister, Rathore had said that the SAI would be renamed and restructured to make it more lean and professional. It’s high time the Sports Ministry made the SAI a truly professional body.


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