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SRFI rally behind Poncha
Shobha Warrier in Chennai | September 03, 2005 15:11 IST
It was a matter of pride for the entire coaching community as well as the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SFRI) when 30-year-old squash coach Cyrus Poncha won this year's Dronacharya award for his contribution to Indian squash as a coach.
But all his achievements and the moment of glory turned sour when India's number squash player Joshna Chinnappa wrote a letter to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs that she never trained under Poncha, and that he had misused her name to get the Dronacharya award.
In order to clear the name of the youngest recipients of the Dronacharya award, N Ramachandran, general secretary of SRFI said the allegations made by Joshna Chinnappa are absolutely 'baseless and unfounded'.
"All the statements made by Joshna Chinnappa that she was never part of the SRFI coaching structure and had never trained under coach Poncha for any length of time are totally baseless and unfounded. Joshna had been training at the ICL-Squash Academy from August 2002 to January 2005 under national coach Poncha and consultant coach, Major S Manian. She had attended every SRFI camp under Poncha's supervision," Ramachandran said.
He further added that Joshna had signed the player's commitment form and was very much a part of the group of players whom Poncha trained from August 2001 to 2004.
He then distributed copies of the letters written by Anjan Chinnappa (Joshna's father) on December 18, 2000 and on January 27, 2001 to the SRFI, thanking the Federation for its support and the guidance of Poncha.
Joshna had also written a letter in May this year thanking the SRFI for its support and guidance.
In fact, in one of her earlier interviews to rediff.com, she acknowledged the guidance of Major Manian and Poncha in her career.
The Federation has forwarded all these letters as documentary evidence to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs to let the Ministry know that Poncha was a worthy winner of the Dronacharya Award.
Felicitating the winner, the chief guest, Walter I Dawaram, executive vice-chairman of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu said: "It cannot be denied that Poncha has produced 14 national and five international players at the squash academy here. He had a huge part to play in putting India on the world squash map."
Saurav Ghosal, one of the most promising squash players in the country, also spoke at the function and said that he owed all his success to Poncha -- who was not just his coach but a friend as well.
Ghosal also added that if not for Poncha, he would not have reached where he is today.
Faced with such large amounts of evidence to the contrary, one cannot help but wonder what might have prompted Joshna to shoot off such a letter to the ministry.