Signalling a massive shake-up in the way sports is administered in India, Sports Minister and Olympic silver winner Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told The Indian Express on Friday that his ministry is in the process of drafting professionals to monitor top sportspersons and, “in a way, privatise” the machinery.
The ministry’s plan also includes the setting up of a 24×7, 365-day control room where the athletes’ performance will be monitored by professionals, including high performance managers. Rathore said the ministry will soon launch a Request for Proposal (RfP) to hire international consultants for recruiting professionals to execute the flagship Target Olympic Podium and Khelo India programmes.
The professionals will be given financial autonomy to reduce the red-tapism that has been criticised by several athletes, said Rathore, who is the first international-level sportsperson to become Sports Minister.
“We are hiring high performance managers, who could be from outside the country as well. We are hiring CEOs, who will take care of administration, logistics and everything else. They will specifically look at the teams that will compete at the continental games and cater to them. So the red-tapism is out,” Rathore said.
“There will be a 24×7, 365 days control room where the athletes’ performance is constantly monitored by these professionals. We will give them the funds, so there is no bureaucracy,” he said, adding that the ministry will soon have a new office, Khel Bhavan, to house all officials and the control room. The plan is based on recommendations from the Olympic Task Force set up by the Prime Minister, he said.
At present, these tasks are carried out by the government officials who are deputed with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Ministry. That trend is likely to end, with Rathore saying that the ministry will hire professionals and researchers for its 15 priority sports.
The Sports Minister said that the professional administrators will be paid the same remuneration as foreign coaches. “Those (foreign coaches) who are getting picked are getting $15,000 (monthly) and those who are picking (administrators) are stuck in the old system of bureaucracy. This has to change. We will pay them the market rate. The mindset needs to change… If our skill trainers are important and are being paid as much as foreign coaches, the logistics and administration officials are equally important.”
SAI officials will be made in charge of managing stadiums and centres of excellence, apart from communicating with various federations. “The SAI has to be made extremely professional. The project officers have been there for years. Some are still energetic. But the energy levels have to be same as that of an athlete. We need to match that,” Rathore said.
“The mandate needs to be very clear. Overall, SAI will look after excellence and managing stadiums. Elite athletes will be in contact with the professional team, which we are putting in place now,” he said. Rathore said that the ministry is also set to launch the National School Games in January, which will be conducted on par with the Asian Games.