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Posted at: Jan 14, 2018, 1:45 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2018, 1:45 AM (IST)

SRFI grading under cloud?

Players allege gradation for Commonwealth Games, Asian Games not fair; accuse squash body of favouritism

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 13

Several players have questioned the Squash and Racquets Federation of India's (SRFI) grading of players that will ultimately decide India's representatives at this year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Discrimination and favouritism are the oft-repeated words when they talk of their omission.

As per SRFI’s annual calendar for training and competitions (ACTC), “the identified players have been divided into four grades: For the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games 2018 we would primarily look at players in Grade A, Grade B with a possibility of players from Grade C.”

Grade A will have men who are currently ranked in Top 100 in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) rankings, while only those in the Top 50 in the PSA’s women’s rankings will be considered. According to these criteria, in the men’s section, Saurav Ghosal, Vikram Malhotra, Mahesh Mangoankar and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu occupy the Top 4 slots in Grade A, but in the women’s section, only Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal have been included.

But the distinction between how the two lists have been formed has a few of the women players in a bind. India No. 3 Sachika Ingale, who has a PSA ranking of 92 currently, finds her name in Grade B which consists of players who have “represented India in the senior events within the past one year or have finished in Top 4 in the current national championships.”

Discrimination against women

Perturbed at this snub, Sachika has filed a complaint with Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. “I am writing to you in regards to the discrimination in the women’s squash team and the men’s team for the Commonwealth Games,” she wrote in her December 22 letter, a copy of which is with.

“… only two players have been selected in the women’s team and five in the men’s team for the Commonwealth Games. If any one of the two women players get injured or fall ill during the tournament, like it has happened before, there needs to be at least one more player in the team, otherwise it will affect the whole team. Even in the last Commonwealth Games, which were held in Glasgow, three women players were taken. In addition, the same players intend to play in the doubles and mixed doubles events too,” the letter adds. Sachita has asked Rathore to look into the matter. SRFI president Debendranath Sarangi and secretary general K Rajendiran were unavailable for comment.

Total omission

India No. 4 Lakshya Ragavendran doesn’t figure in any of the four grades even after she finished runners-up to Chinappa at the last National Championships.

“Well, they have been favouring players appearing in the PSA events for some time now. I don’t play PSA events as I am pursuing a degree in architecture. There have been times when I have been overlooked for a player who has a PSA ranking,” Lakshya said. As per SRFI, Grade C will include players who have the potential to represent the country in the senior events in the next three years, while Grade D consists of junior players.

Riya Sisodia, who is at the 11th spot in the national rankings, too was surprised as she did not figure in any of the grades. “I shifted to the senior category only a few months back. In the U-19 category, I am in the Top 4. But there are players in the list like Radhika Rathore and some of the U-17 players whom I have beaten a number of times. I am surprised they have been included but I am not,” she said.

Different parameter

In the men’s team, India No. 6 Gaurav Nandrajog too has been left out. Interestingly, the list includes Ravi Dixit, who as per SRFI has not done anything in the last two years on the PSA circuit. “It is silly that I am not a part of the ACTC. OK, I can still understand that since I am coming back after a long layoff so I am not fit to be part of Grade A but why is it that I am not in any grade? I am Delhi No. 1 and I am India No. 6, according to them. But just because I am not on PSA rankings or in Chennai I am not a part of this,” Nandrajog said.

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