SPORTS TRIBUNE
 


Indian colours for Indian citizens
Anil Malhotra
A
recent decision of the Indian Government stating that only Indian citizens would be permitted to represent India in international sporting events and that Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) would not be eligible to 
Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Abhinav Bindra
From left: Recent examples of succesful Indian players like Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Abhinav Bindra leave no doubt that India nurtures great talent, which needs to be motivated locally :File photos
represent the country has attracted a debate.

Navjoban KaurStar runner
Sandeep Rana
S
he may have won many national championships earlier but the recently concluded All-India Inter University Athletic Championship holds a special place int he heart of Navjoban Kaur, a student of Panjab University, who won two gold medals and broke the eight-year-old record by clocking 1:15 minutes in the women’s half marathon at Kochi.                         Navjoban Kaur

‘I will be back stronger’
JCT FC’s Balwant Singh missed out on the on-going national camp in Goa as he met with an accident and injured his nose  Vaibhav Sharma
B
alwant Singh, the JCT FC forward man has come a long way from playing in the dusty ground in his village Rahalli, to being one of the main hit men for his club. And the dream was culminating with splendor, when he was chosen for the national camp in Goa, to pick the team for the friendly against Hong Kong. But one foggy night and it became clear to the JCT man that he will not be making the trip to Goa.
JCT FC’s Balwant Singh missed out on the on-going national camp in Goa as he met with an accident and injured his nose

Finally, Zheng Jie is out of the system
W
imbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie is relishing her new freedom after being allowed to leave China’s rigid state-run sporting system and keep more of her earnings, local media said. "Finally I can have my own schedule. I can control my time now,’’ the world number 25 told the China Daily.

David Beckham in Milan colours
D
avid Beckham failed to make much of an impact on his debut for AC Milan last week, exiting at halftime before the Italian powerhouse beat Hamburg 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. The former England captain, who is on a three-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, was greeted by a huge ovation from the crowd ahead of the friendly and displayed a few good touches with his famous right foot.

   

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Indian colours for Indian citizens
Anil Malhotra

A recent decision of the Indian Government stating that only Indian citizens would be permitted to represent India in international sporting events and that Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) would not be eligible to represent the country has attracted a debate.

An estimated 30 million non-resident Indians of a population of about 1.1 billion Indians live in 130 countries abroad and it is estimated that about 6 million retain their Indian citizenship consciously though they live abroad.

The constitution of India does not allow holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously. By amending the Citizenship Act in 2005, a new category of citizenship i.e. Overseas Citizens of India was created with limited benefits.

Accordingly, an OCI is only entitled to the privileges so notified. Section 7B specifically prohibits political and other rights to OCIs who have only multiple entry life long visa facility for visiting India for any purpose any time. Both Article 9 of the Constitution of India and Section 9 of the Indian Citizenship Act categorically prohibit dual citizenship and holding of two nationalities simultaneously of two countries.

When an Indian chooses to become a foreign citizen out of choice, the options are clear and it is a conscious decision to shed the benefits of Indian citizenship. Thereupon, upon gaining the status of an OCI, one cannot gain more than what the status of this semi-citizenship offers. There is no notified promise of any rights to represent the country in any national or international sports event going with it. Hence, non-entitlement to a benefit, which does not exist ought not to create a hue and a cry. If you choose to opt out, you cannot come in under an umbrella, which never existed.

The decision that only Indians should be allowed to carry the flag of India or walk under it for official representation in international sports is perfectly valid, just and fair. To represent you country at a sporting event is a matter of great prestige and deserving for only those who are Indians in every way.

Having shared this feeling recently with my nine-year-old daughter who represented Chandigarh in the Under-14 lawn tennis team in the National School Games at New Delhi, I share the euphoric feeling of participating in an event in which you march under the flag of your country.

The argument raised by some that Indians have excelled by training or expertise acquired abroad and which necessitates their living abroad, espouses little support. Recent examples of Abhinav Bindra, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Sushil Kumar, Vijender Singh, PT Usha and Karnam Malleswari excelling in sports internationally leaves no doubt that India nurtures a great talent, which needs to be motivated locally.

We cannot kill the spirit of enterprise, motivation, devotion and dedication by transplanting ourselves to foreign locations. If we propagate an argument that we can excel only by training, exposure and working out abroad, we will kill the future of Indian sports.

Critics beware. Creating a rank and cadre with zeal and zest within India is more important. Encouragement to local talent by providing them facilities, infrastructure and inputs is the need of the hour when the commonwealth games of the country are round the corner.

Patriotism is a feeling, which should induce and fuel your thoughts and sentiment. Criticism of the Indian policy for a favoured few only aborts the spirit.

the success story of a handful foreign Indian sports persons cannot spin a yarn. If you choose to graze on greener pastures, you ought not to aspire to return temporarily to steal a march over other who mingle with the soil and prefer to enjoy its moist flavour.

The argument that you need to return abroad again and again to train and acquire expertise does not entitle you to represent your homeland. Sailing in two boats cannot determine your future. If you have to excel, you can do it in India also. If you have the riches, resources and connections, do go abroad, but without your citizenship. Come back and live in India and represent your country it will make you proud.


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Star runner
Sandeep Rana

She may have won many national championships earlier but the recently concluded All-India Inter University Athletic Championship holds a special place int he heart of Navjoban Kaur, a student of Panjab University, who won two gold medals and broke the eight-year-old record by clocking 1:15 minutes in the women’s half marathon at Kochi.

"I am very happy that I managed to set a new record in India in the half marathon event," says an excited Kaur. Navjoban timed 36 minutes to clinch her second gold medal in the women’s 10, 000 meter event.

The running prodigy had last year annexed the silver medal in the All-India Inter University Cross Country Championship held at Rohtak. "I am a first year student in GTB Khalsa College, Dasuia (Hoshiarpur) and am happy that in the first year of college, I have already won two national championships," she quips.

Life hasn’t been easy for her as even after attending two senior India camps in 2006 and 2007 she couldn’t play for India because of a back injury. "It is just a temporary set back and I know that I need to keep my morale high and just get going," Navjoban says.

"To represent your country is a task laden with tremendous amounts of responsibility but my back was not in a good shape and i didn’t want to put in a half-baked effort on the international level. Though I have been participating in other national championships, I wasn’t quite ready for the international stage and even my my doctor adviced some rest."

After her stupendous performance in 2007-08 she is all set to don the national colours as she has been selected for a senior national camp for the upcoming Asia World Cross Country Championship in March. "After the successful treatment of my injury, I am ready for the championship and claming a gold would be my only aim," says a fired up Navjoban.

Showering the credit of all her success on her father she says, "He is my father, coach and supporter too. I never felt any coach’s need ever as my dad has been all in all for that. He often goes with me for the morning and evening practice and guides and inspires me to do well," she concludes.


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‘I will be back stronger’
Vaibhav Sharma

Balwant Singh, the JCT FC forward man has come a long way from playing in the dusty ground in his village Rahalli, to being one of the main hit men for his club. And the dream was culminating with splendor, when he was chosen for the national camp in Goa, to pick the team for the friendly against Hong Kong. But one foggy night and it became clear to the JCT man that he will not be making the trip to Goa.

"I was going back home late at night, and the fog cover was very thick. I was on my bike and on seeing a trolley right in front of me, I braked suddenly.

"The bike slipped and I collided with the trolley. I think I averted a serious injury as I was not riding at a very high speed. But I hurt my face and that was enough to keep me away from the national camp," says Balwant while talking to The Tribune.

Balwant had been picked up for the national camp, being held under the supervision of national coach Bob Houghton, along with his teammates; Baldeep Singh Jr., Anwar Ali and Baljit Sahni.

"It is disappointing, obviously. I would have wanted to go as that is what all of us dream about. Playing for the country is the ultimate goal and I was close to it. But never mind, I know I just have to pick myself up, get back to full fitness, and then have a go at this once again. This time probably even harder than before, as the disappointment will fuel my desire to leave no stone unturned."

He still remembers how his life got bombarded with football right through his childhood. His brother was the initiator, his parents the inspiration, but it was his principal Sardar Jagmohan Singh, Khalsa Sr secondary School, Baddon, who made him understand what football could do to his life and how it would influence his outlook.

"He is someone who has always been there by my side. He has inspired me and instilled confidence in me at every juncture. Even today, football influences my life, and he influences my football."

Talking about the second leg of the I-League that starts soon, he says "We are in a good position to make a comeback. In the first leg we had maximum away games, but now we will get the chance to play at home.

"We are definitely looking forward to the second leg and I hope after regaining my fitness, I will be there to aid my team’s charge".


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Finally, Zheng Jie is out of the system

Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie is relishing her new freedom after being allowed to leave China’s rigid state-run sporting system and keep more of her earnings, local media said. "Finally I can have my own schedule. I can control my time now,’’ the world number 25 told the China Daily.

The paper said Zheng can keep as much as 92 per cent of her prize money, after formerly having to part with up to 65 per cent, and could for the first time miss winter training camp to enjoy a holiday with parents.

Zheng, who in July became China’s first player to make the last four at Wimbledon, left the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) this month to become a free agent on the international tour along with compatriots Li Na, Peng Shuai and doubles partner Yan Zi.

With most athletes in China still required to join government-sponsored city and provincial teams to be eligible to join the national team and compete in international tournaments, the CTA’s release of its top players marks a watershed for professional Chinese sport.

The move followed several years of conflict between authorities keen to nurture their best talent and players frustrated at strict training regimes and smaller pay packets.

Zheng and her free agent compatriots can still be called up for national duty, according to CTA deputy director Gao Shenyang, and are welcome back in the state fold at any time.

"The players can ask for help any time they want,’’ the paper quoted Gao as saying. "If they don’t like the new format after trying it for a while, they are free to revert to the old system.’’ The players will be giving up a group of 17 coaches, eight doctors, and a team of sports nutritionists, physicians, psychologists and trainers ready to give free consultations at any time, the paper said.

Zheng said she would not be far from the embrace of the state, however: "It is not appropriate to say ‘flying away’, because I never actually left the national team,’’ she said. — Reuters


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David Beckham in Milan colours

David Beckham failed to make much of an impact on his debut for AC Milan last week, exiting at halftime before the Italian powerhouse beat Hamburg 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

The former England captain, who is on a three-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, was greeted by a huge ovation from the crowd ahead of the friendly and displayed a few good touches with his famous right foot.

Playing in a largely defensive role in midfield, Beckham provided a steady performance before being replaced by Mathieu Flamini after a scoreless first half.

"It was a great atmosphere here today, felt just like when I was at (Manchester) United, they had families here sitting with the kids and it brings back memories," Beckham said.

"It was exciting for me. Penalties aren't the best way to win a game, but I'm glad that we won. AC Milan works very hard and I love working hard." Ronaldinho gave Milan the lead from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute, but Collin Benjamin poked in from close range to make it 1-1 five minutes later and neither team scored again in regulation.

Beckahm has been part of great clubs even earlier. He has alos captained his country, England, before resigning. Some great clubs he has been with are Manchester United, Real Madrid and his current employers LAGAlaxy, who have a reputatuion for picking up stars.

Earlier in the summer, when the MLS takes a break, Beckham had trained with London-based english giants, Arsenal FC at their London Colney based training ground. Despite his fall out with the Manchester United manager Beckham has a special place in the hearts of all United fans. He had also had a showdown with the current England coach, and then Real Madrid manager Fabio Capello, during his time at the Bernabeau. — AP


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