Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 11
The Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) is facing flak over a controversial selection criterion that calls for inclusion of two India-based riders. EFI, through a circular which is also posted on its website, said the arrangement was only for the Asian Continental Championships, to be held in Thailand in December.
EFI and the selectors suggested that the change was needed to safeguard those Indian riders who don’t have the money to go on lengthy training programmes abroad. But critics — including one of the selectors, Anisha Sodhi, who has written a dissent note — have termed this as a “quota system” as the selection is not being done purely on merit. The critics also point to the fact that the new selection policy does not have the seal of approval from the general body, which has been the norm.
EFI secretary general Colonel RK Swain said that the selectors were authorised to change the selection norms. “I am not part of the selection committee so it wouldn’t be fair for me to make a comment on this issue, but we think it is being done in the right spirit. I know some are calling it a quota system but it is not,” he said.
Swain added that the issue would be debated in the executive committee meeting on Saturday. A member of the selection committee said the move was to keep the India-based riders interested. “We need to keep the sport relevant here. Currently, those who can afford to lease horses abroad, get selected. This way, the enthusiasm amongst the India-based riders will die and the sport will suffer,” the committee member said.
“We had a girl in the 2014 Asian Games team who did very badly. But since her father could afford her training abroad, she made the qualifying standard and got the Asian Games participating certificate that got her a seat in an Ivy League college. What happens to those who can’t train abroad? Don’t you think it will be unfair to them,” he added.
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