On 11 May 2020, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports released a list of 54 National Sports Federations (NSFs) as recognised till September 2020. However, the surprising part was that the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI), Rowing Federation of India (RFI), and School Games Federation of India (SGFI) failed to get their recognition. PCI and RFI were suspended for violating National Sports Code and SGFI was derecognised for mismanagement; Taekwondo, Gymnastics and Archery were others missing in the list.
The Indian sports recognition is an unending story that has been haunting the associations. I have seen the drama from the district level to the national level as a player, and then as a professional, and I have always wondered about the relationship between “Recognised” and “Unrecognised” and the importance of it all.
To simplify, each sport has an association which applies to respective Country Olympic Association and they subsequently are recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, although the Olympics charter clearly says: “No political interference” in working of Olympics movement, yet the “Land of law” has to be applied to all these associations. This, in turn, gives control in the hands of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Associations mostly in India are dependent on funds released by the ministry, hence even after being recognised by their respective international associations, the ministry takes a call in recognising or de-recognising, leaving them with no choices other than accepting the norms set in by the GoI.
My focus is to analyse the SGFI de-recognition, as the move is going to be a large challenge for “grassroots sports and games”. The body has been active since 1954 and has been handling competitions in 63 categories with almost athletes of all states in the country. The body is recognised by Asian Sports Federation and Internationals Schools Sports Federation. The controversy started with the “promos” of the “Khelo India Games” on guru and shishya, where Mahabali Satpal and Sushil Kumar were left out because they are both related to SGFI. The whole controversy of “tug of war” seems to have started after Khelo India games. The tussle to hold an upper hand over the “grassroots” games is the reason why SGFI is being a target of de-recognition.
Issues like corruption, nepotism, and non-professional working in associations are neither new, nor is SGFI a unique example. Many bodies are exhibiting worst scenarios, yet they are not in the list of suspension! With SGFI’s de-recognition, the confidence of young minds will be shaken, and chaos will be created for participation. I think that was the very purpose of minds behind waiting to take away the coveted advantage. Participation in SGFI games in the future will be a different story.
The writer is a sports guru.