|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, January 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
Of coaching camps and qualifications
WITH sports going professional in more then one sense there has understandably been a steady increase in the number of coaching centres in various parts of the country. Most of these centres are manned by former players who have been unable to go beyond a certain stage in their chosen discipline.
Deaths of Italian footballers fuel doping fears
Of coaching camps and qualifications
WITH sports going professional in more then one sense there has understandably been a steady increase in the number of coaching centres in various parts of the country. Most of these centres are manned by former players who have been unable to go beyond a certain stage in their chosen discipline. They are generally a very dedicated lot and work hard with the children under their charge. Such ventures also help them sustain themselves. There are others who have made these centres a regular money spinning propositions, engaging former players to train the younger lot. In order to project a higher profile, some of these centres are now being called academies. At the top level of course there are the foundations which are manned by highly qualified professional organisations.
The question here is whether all these centres, academies and foundations have taken the permission of the apex bodies? Do the various federations have some sort of a control over these ventures? More importantly who is to judge whether the academies are run on proper lines? Is there some agency overlooking the working of the many such centres?
Given the increasing involvement of money and sponsorship at every step it is time that the Indian Olympic Association and its affiliates, both at the national and state level, take more than passing interest in these coaching institutions, in particular those that are run by individuals as private ventures. The idea is not to curtail such practice but to ensure that these centres are run strictly according to norms and training is imparted on the right lines. Some such control will go a long way in keeping a check on wild mushrooming of these institutions and at the same time help give them legitimacy. A central authority means quality control.
This is an idea which may not find favour with most of the academies run by individuals as private property. They may take it as impinging on their individual rights and interfering with their work. But there is another angle to it. In case they accept some sort of patronage they could always seek the assistance and guidance of the central authority when in trouble.
Take the case of P.T.Usha’s much advertised athletics academy. The star sprinter has been heard to lament the lack of action on the part of the Ministry of Youth Affairs on her request for financial assistance. According to her she had been sending proposals since the tenure of S.S.Dhinsda (former Sports Minister). That means some three to four years now. Since then there have been other stalwarts holding the post and one of them, Ms Uma Bharati even inaugurated the academy last year. But so far P.T. Usha’s dream venture, the athletics Academy at Payyoli, is not able to function properly. The school needs money for hostel facilities without which Usha is unable to go ahead with her plan of adopting a limited number of boys and girls from all over India for specialised training.
If Usha’s school had been a recognised venture under one central authority, the IOA and the Amateur Athletics Federation of India, could have done the running around and ensured that the Ministry speed up the process of releasing the required finances. Usha’s idea of an athletics school is a great one, considering the fact that her name itself is a big market. She however could have achieved greater success if she had gone around involving the state association and the AAFI in her efforts to give athletics a big boost through her academy.
Usha’s case is just one example. But it also applies to the various tennis and cricket academies which have sprung up all over India. Cricket and tennis are big money spinners and every youngster wants to excel in them. Hence the coaching academies thrive but it will benefit both the academies as well as the trainees if some basic norms are followed and training methods are standardised under one central authority. And that can be done only if the controlling authorities insist that every academy is registered with them and follow a set pattern of rules.
As things stand anyone can
start a coaching camp, employ a former player to coach and charge any
amount of money from rich parents to allow their children to dream about
being national stars. This enthusiasm, if properly channelled will
benefit everyone. It must also be emphasised here that these centres and
schools are doing the work which in normal course should have been the
responsibility of the associations and federations.
Deaths of Italian footballers fuel doping fears
AN Italian judge is investigating the suspicious death of 70 football stars amid fears that drugs their clubs gave them may have triggered their fatal illnesses.
Mr Raffaele Guariniello, a magistrate in Turin, is probing the unusually high incidence of cancer, leukaemia and a rare disease of the nervous system among players who have appeared for top clubs such as Juventus, Roma and Milan.
"Out of 400 deaths since 1960, we are investigating 70 suspicious ones," said Guariniello, who is researching the records of 24,000 professional Italian players between 1960 and 1996. `Many more players are dying of these diseases than members of the public.’
The judge believes the consumption of `doping-style substances’ by players, with or without their knowledge, is a possible explanation. He began interviewing former players, trainers and relatives in 1999, after several widows approached him for help.
Fears have been raised that footballers in Britain could be suffering from similar diseases. "If it is true that there’s a proved link between drug misuse and football, it would have implications for our efforts to keep sport here drug-free," said Mr Michele Verroken, the anti-doping chief of the UK Sports Council, who is writing to the football authorities drawing attention to the evidence emerging in Italy.
Mr Verroken said there were parallels between the diseases afflicting Italian players and those suffered by athletes in East Germany, who were secretly drugged by the communist authorities. It is not clear what the levels of knowledge about possible side-effects of these drugs were.
"Stasi files released after the event showed the health dangers to sportsmen who take drugs. We learnt that the regimes of steroid administration caused severe health problems — including, it appears, premature death — among runners, swimmers and other athletes in the seventies and eighties."
A number of top British and Irish players, such as Ian Rush, Liam Brady, Graeme Souness and Paul Ince, spent part of their careers in Italy in the eighties and nineties. There is no suggestion that any British or Irish player has ever, even unwittingly, encountered any drug use or suffered diseases such as those emerging in Italy.
However, the fate of Gianluca Signorini, a defender with Roma, Genoa and Parma, is among those arousing Mr Guariniello’s suspicion. After giving Italy some of its most spectacular footballing moments of the nineties, the defender was totally paralysed by a rare terminal disease.
"I would like to get up and run with you, but I can’t," the wheelchair-bound hero told 30,000 devastated fans at a tribute match in May 2001, in a message read out by his daughter Benedetta. "I would like to shout songs of joy with you, but I can’t. I would like this to be a dream from which I will wake up, but it isn’t."
Horrified Italians still mourn Signorini, who died of the rare amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’, in November last year, aged 42. His case raises fresh suspicions that the country’s leading clubs may have literally driven some of their best players to death over the past 40 years by over-working them and pumping them with drugs.
Although Signorini blamed his condition on `destiny’, he listed all the drugs he had been given. "They injected me with a lot of Voltaren for the ongoing pains in the shin and Neoton and Esafosfina directly into the veins before the matches," he told Italy’s Panorama magazine.
Others, such as former Inter player Sandro Mazzola, have reportedly testified to Mr Guariniello about the use of amphetamines, high-risk radiotherapy and ‘heavy’ painkillers.
"There is a dramatic difference," said Guariniello. "The risk of liver and colon tumours is twice as high as it is among normal members of the public. For Gehrig disease, we expected perhaps one case, because the probability was 0.61. Instead we found 45 cases of the disease, and 13 of them are already dead."
Gehrig, which attacks the nervous system and the spinal cord, was named after an American baseball hero, the first major sportsman to die of the disease, and is extremely rare.
Mr Guariniello’s investigation is probing any link between the high death rates among young players and standards of practice in Italy’s biggest clubs. Research has linked leukaemia to the use of growth hormones and liver tumours can be caused by anabolic steroids, he said. But in the case of ALS, there is as yet, no scientific explanation.
Mr Guariniello believes the 45 ALS cases, which include ex- Sampdoria player Guido Vincenzi and AC Milan’s Giorgio Rognoni, who died of ALS in 1986 at 40, could in some way be related to a combination of intensive physical activity combined with leg injuries.
"We are now identifying all the players who have died for these reasons to see who might be responsible. It is emerging that there are some clubs where there have been many more deaths than in others," said Guariniello..
A Torino player now suffering from ALS told the judge about pressure from clubs: "They made me play when I was already ill. But the club convinced me not to stop. They said I had a future."
STARTER he was, but he specialised in golf ‘match-making’. As he grew in experience, he provided a player a four-ball group, according to his handicap, financial resources and also age. Dedicated to the cause of golf and golfers, he saw to it that the game progressed without any hindrance or acrimony. He was almost as much a legend and popular as Billoo Sethi was in a different sphere.
First to arrive and last to leave the course, this unique character was Surjit Singh Bedi, whose sudden death in a road accident went un-noticed and unreported for days. It was, in a way, sheer carelessness on the part of the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) officialdom and the International Management Group (IMG), which did not react to his demise. Had any official sent a brief pressnote, Bedi Sa’ab’s death news would have been in print.
The DGC in particular and other organisers in the Capital must realise that, if golf news is appearing in different newspapers, it is because of Tiger Sports Marketing, which is meticulously spoon-feeding the Press. This is what DGC should have done.
Now, the DGC and IMG in collaboration with the Chivas Regal should pool their resources to run a befitting tournament in his memory. Bedi’s contribution has been more than the performance of several so-called stalwarts.
Bedi was on his way to the club for the Chivas Regal competition that was in progress. He had hardly crossed the Lodhi Road crematorium when the taxi from the other side jumped over the divider and rammed into his slow-moving car. (The taxi-driver, it is said, had gone to sleep on the wheel).
Bedi did not sustain many injuries but he reportedly died owing to shock. He was distressed to see that the car, presented to him by Omi Malhotra and other DGC members, should have been damaged. Such was his love for the car and respect for the members.
The grand old man, Bedi Sa’ab died in harness virtually. It was befitting that he should have been consigned to flames at the same place where he had breathed his last.
A colourful personality, Bedi had a very subtle sense of humour. He seldom raised his voice or frowned at any member or a guest. When he was hit on the course by the cart, he retained his calmness although he had to stay off course for a few months. That was not long ago.
During his 52-year tenure at the club, Bedi made many friends and earned admiration from virtually all. There are many anecdotes that revolved around him. One that needs mention is: An African diplomat was back on the course after several months. But Bedi could pronounce his tongue-twisting name correctly. When the diplomat asked him as to how he could pronounce his name correctly, Bedi quietly said, "Sir, your name resembles "Ghar-ke-murgi-dal - mafik."
Questions that need answers
Now that the New Zealand tour is over, a few questions need to be answered by our selectors. Dinesh Mongia was brought in place of Laxman by ignoring the fact that even in the home series against West Indies, Mongia had not clicked whereas Laxman was consistent and a big success. When Mongia could not total even 30 runs in four knocks, how was he considered better for the forthcoming World Cup than Laxman? And how can one explain the continuation of Kaif? Even after falling short of 100 runs in 11 knocks in New Zealand, Ganguly is firmly in the saddle as captain for the World Cup. Steve Waugh’s success rate as captain is at least 10 times more than that of Ganguly but he is not in the squad. Either our selectors are right or the Australian selectors are wrong!
Bhartendu Sood, Chandigarh
The disgusting performance of the Indian cricket team has really disappointed the nation. By winning two one-dayers, the Indian averted a clean sweep by the Kiwis. The batting performance of the team was poor. These batsmen were rightly called cowards by a New Zealand magazine. Our batsmen struggled to complete 50 overs. The bowlers, on the other hand performed well against all odds in this series. The Indian cricketers seem to be more interested in appearing in advertisements rather than paying full attention to the game. They seem to have forgotten that they are representing the country.
Naresh Popli, Chandigarh
The hopes of the Indian cricket team to end the series on a winning note were shattered with the defeat in the last match against New Zealand. The Kiwis outclassed our team in all the departments of the game. Tuffey proved tough and Bond subdued our batsmen. Except for Sehwag, all our star batsmen failed to rise to the occasion. It is difficult to say whether they will qualify for the super six of the forthcoming World Cup.
A.S. Jaswal, Chandigarh
It was shocking to observe that our cricket team led by Saurav Ganguly was defeated in the Test and one-day series by New Zealand. We were outclassed in every department of the game. The BCCI should sack Ganguly as captain. He has not been able to deliver the goods. Ganguly should himself step down voluntarily.
Subhash C Taneja, Rohtak
It was sad to know that Sunita Rani had to surrender her medals on the basis of an erroneous lab report. The laboratory personnel should learn a lesson from the episode and strive for accuracy in all tests.