Para players’ endless wait for state cash rewards

Para players’ endless wait for state cash rewards

Ajay Joshi

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 19

The state government’s silence over releasing cash awards is irking national and international para players, who haven’t received their prize money for the past several years.

Gurdeep Singh (35), a para powerlifter, who started playing the sport in 2006, has around 11 medals (four gold, five silver and two bronze) that he clinched in various national para power-lifting championships held between 2006 and 2019.

However, not even once was he paid any cash award from the state government.

Entitlement

  • Notably, as per these players, the government has kept Rs40,000, Rs25,000 and Rs15,000 cash awards for gold, silver and bronze medal winners, respectively.
  • Meanwhile, DPS Kharbanda, Director of Sports, Punjab, assured that the department would consider all eligible players for the cash awards and provide them the same shortly.

A resident of Nawanshahr, Gurdeep said: “We feel demotivated when our government remains mute in disbursing cash awards. Unlike Punjab, medal winners in other states are conferred with cash rewards in lakhs, which eventually encourage them to improve their game in future championships. Whereas here, we are just given false promises and every year after submitting our documents for the award, we are only given assurances that never see the light of the day. Apart from motivation, cash rewards help us supplement our diet and training expenses, which nowadays is very tough to manage. The game has become costly and we need money to fulfil our daily needs.”

Similarly Manpreet Kaur (32), a para player from Phagwara, who even holds world ranking, hasn’t been given the cash awards for the past five years. She has five gold and two silver medals in her kitty that she bagged from national and international games, including Asian games. “As a powerlifter, we need a certain kind of diet and supplements for maintaining our physical strength. But, we don’t have enough money to afford good quality diet and protein. Luckily, we have supportive coaches who take care of our needs. But for how long will we be able to depend on them? It’s high time that the government released funds,” said Manpreet. The only thing that affects her is the negligent behaviour of the state government towards players. Despite creating a milestone, not only is she jobless, but has also not received the award amount of the national and international matches she won.

Owing to the absence of cash awards, many para players who had dreamt of securing a job for themselves after winning national and international medals have reportedly left practising their games only. Gurdeep, who is dependent on his father for all his needs who works as a daily wage labourer, said: “My father took a loan and borrowed money to support my dreams and now, I have nothing to pay him back. Most of our seniors have left the game including Manjit Singh, a talented and award winning player. Now, I’m also thinking of joining them and have planned to open a mobile repair shop to afford two-square meals,” Gurdeep said.

Likewise, Sonia (44), another national-level para player, says promoting talent at the national level was the key to success at the international level and cash rewards only make performance better. “However, we haven’t been paid even a single penny by the state government.

Playerspeak

We feel discouraged when government remains mute in disbursing cash awards. Unlike Punjab, medal winners in other states are given cash rewards in lakhs, which eventually encourage them to improve their game. Whereas here, we are just given false promises and every year despite submitting our documents for the award, we are only given assurances that never see the light of day. —Gurdeep Singh, a para powerlifter

As a powerlifter, we need a certain kind of diet and supplements for maintaining our physical strength. But, we don't have enough money to afford good quality diet and protein. Luckily, we have supportive coaches who take care of our needs. But how long will we be able to depend on them? It's high time the government released funds. —Manpreet Kaur, an international para player

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