'I would like to bring to your kind notice that food quality at Bangalore SAI centre has been well below par with a professional unit - excessive oil and fat through out, bones with lack of meats. Moreover Insects, bugs and hair were also found in the food.'
Chief coach of Indian men's team Harendra Singh on Monday complained to Hockey India about the sub-standard quality of food and hygiene level at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru, where the national team is currently training ahead of the Champions Trophy.
Having received the complaint, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra, who was the former HI chief and current president of International Hockey Federation (FIH), swung into action and wrote to the Sports Ministry to address the issue.
"I would like to bring to your kind notice that food quality at Bangalore SAI centre has been well below par with a professional unit - excessive oil and fat through out, bones with lack of meats. Moreover Insects, bugs and hair were also found in the food. Sir, I also would like to inform you that hygiene part has also been neglected," Harendra wrote in his letter to HI top officials.
"The kitchen utensils which are used to prepare food are unhealthy. We are preparing for the upcoming Champions Trophy, Asian Games and World Cup. It is vital for these high performance athletes to have meals which consists of entire nutrition.
"Recently we conducted blood tests on all 48 athletes and the blood report found many food related deficiencies in some athletes which act as a hindrance to perform at the optimum level," he added.
The chief coach further wrote that the quality of food has been sub-standard despite Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's instructions during one of his visits before the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
"Before the CWG (Commonwealth Games), during one of the camps, Hon'ble Sports Minister had visited the camps and had given instructions to competent authority that within 48 hours these complaints must be addressed but no change is visible," Harendra wrote.
After being informed by Hockey India, the IOA asked SAI to look into the matter as soon as possible.
IOA president Batra immediately wrote to SAI Director General Neelam Kapur, urging her to address the matter seriously.
"The Hon'ble Minister had visited SAI centre Bangalore couple of months back and he is aware of this situation concerning the athletes and their food issue, hygiene issues etc," Batra wrote.
"It is couple of months now, I humbly request SAI to kindly take care of food quality, hygiene, cleanness etc at SAI centre Bangalore in interest of health and performance of elite athletes. If we expect elite athletes to perform at their best, then we also need to provide them with the best."
The IOA chief sought a meeting with SAI DG to discuss the matter.
"Kindly give time to discuss on these issues since it is a problem across all centres of SAI," Batra wrote.
India will next take part in the Champions Trophy to be held in Breda, Netherlands from June 23 to July 1.