The government stuck to its decision not to name any manager for 23 out of the 28 disciplines in which India are taking part in the upcoming Asian Games even though the Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federations slammed the move.
While clearing a 679-strong Indian contingent for the September 19 to October 4 Games in Incheon, South Korea, the Sports Ministry dropped all the managers, except for five, who have been proposed by the IOA in its list of 942 athletes and officials.
The managers named in the sports ministry's list which was cleared after consultation with the Prime Minister's Office include tennis star Sania Mirza's mother Naseema Mirza, Rajan F Irani (golf), V K Dhal (shooting), Ramavtar Singh Jakhar (volleyball) and K D Singh (yatching).
The ministry had also barred the IOA and the NSFs from sending managers at their own cost as it said that the principle of ‘no cost to government’ will not apply for adding any other name to the contingent.
The IOA had made a request to the ministry to re-consider its decision to exclude managers from the Indian contingent but the government today said that the list issued on Wednesday was final and no changes will be made in this regard.
"We are not making any changes in the list. So no managers will be added, the list is final now," Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson said.
"The IOA and the NSFs are making it a big issue. Not having managers is a minor issue. Coaches can be designated as coach-cum-manager and that can be done easily and accepted by the organising committees of multi-sporting events," he said.
‘Coaches cannot perform managers’ duties’
The IOA and NSFs, on the other hand, contended that the contingent will face difficulties without managers and that could impact the performance of the athletes. They also questioned the government's decision not to allow the IOA and NSFs to send officials on their own cost.
"In every discipline, the manager is required to perform certain functions. Coaches cannot perform these functions. There will be managers' meeting before the start of competition in every discipline and how can coaches take part in it and prepare the team for next day's match, training etc?" asked IOA Joint Secretary Rakesh Gupta.
"Sometimes in these kind of mega events, there used to come up issues like loss of passport etc. and if the coaches will have to look after these things, then who will take care of the on-field performance of the athletes?" he asked.
‘Inviting disaster by not naming the managers, it is a foolish move’
The 2012 London Olympics Chef-de-Mission and former Indian Boxing Federation Brig. P K Muralidharan Raja said managers are a must in a mega event like the Asian Games and not naming them was like inviting disaster.
He, however, pointed out that technically there was not such rule that only managers are mandatory to take part in meeting of competitions and coaches can be designated as managers also.
"Managers are an absolute must for a mega event like the Asian Games and for a big contingent like India's. You are inviting disaster by not naming the managers and it is a foolish move," he said.
"Technically, a coach can be designated as a coach cum manager and there is no such rule that only the managers are mandatory in certain functions. But if you want results, you need manager for every discipline and India wants results. It is not that managers are going for holiday, they have a lot of work and I have the experience.”
"The jobs of a coach and a manager are different. The coaches will look after the performance part of the athletes, their training, their mental preparation, etc. But you need a manager to look after the injury of an athlete, to take security passes, to get the fixtures, to lodge protest.
"A coach cannot take part in the managers' meeting and at the same time be with the team for training. Many a times, the schedule of these events may clash," he added.
‘Who will act as manager when you need to lodge a protest?’
Sepaktakraw Federation of India Secretary General Yogender Singh Dahiya said that Indian teams may not be allowed to make substitutions of their players without the signature of managers. He also said that a manager's signature is mandatory to make a protest or appeal against a decision of the referee.
"In Sepaktakraw and other disciplines also, you need the signature of manager to sign on the paper submitted for a substitution of players during matches. In sepaktakraw, you cannot field the same players in team competitions in all the sets. If you do that you will lose. So substitution is very important," he said.
"And you cannot lodge a protest or make an appeal against the decision of a referee without the signature of a manager. That is mandatory under rule book.
"When the coaches are occupied during simultaneous matches of men's and women's teams, who will act as manager when you need to lodge a protest or attend to administrative jobs?" he asked.
"The technical people in the SAI (Teams) should have told this to the government," he added.