Spiker Tom Josephs exclusion from the list of Arjuna Awards is refusing to die down. Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general Jiji Thomson has written a dissenting note to the sports ministry in which he has raised severe objections to Josephs exclusion.
It is understood that Josephs name had initially made the list of 16 nominees that were decided upon during the SAI meeting on Tuesday,which Thomson presided over. It was only left for the decision to be recorded and for the members to sign on the minutes of the meeting. However,as soon as Thomson left the meeting hall,the committee changed its stand and decided to remove Josephs name from the list. Thomson came to know of this only later when the minutes were forwarded to him to be signed. At the first instance,an angry Thomson refused to sign it. And when he did,he did it with dissent.
The same evening,Thomson wrote a letter to the sports ministry and raising the point that the committee had decided on Josephs exclusion in his absence and hence was invalid.
This was the ninth year running that the former volleyball captain has been ignored. But all is not lost for Joseph as the sports ministry has the right to include additional names if they are merited. Ministry sources have confirmed that the decision to include his name would,in all likelihood,be taken today.
The matter has also taken a political turn. Leader of the opposition in Kerala,V S Achuthanandan of the CPI (M) and the state government wrote letters to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sports minister Jitendra Singh pushing for Josephs inclusion in the awards list.
Moreover,Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy had personally called the Sports Minister. Also,a delegation of MPs from the Left met the sports minister demanding that Joseph be considered for the award. The sense that they got from the minister,sources said,was that the sports ministry could enlarge the list of awardees to include Joseph. The MPs said it was not just a case of a veteran player or a sportsman from Kerala getting ignored,but the issue was also about lesser-commercialised sports being given the short shrift.
In the recent past,we have seen cricketers and others playing highly-commercialised and well-marketed games cornering all the awards, CPI (M) Rajya Sabha MP K N Balagopal said.
Meanwhile,discuss thrower Krishna Poonia and her husband Virender Poonia met the sports minister Jitendra Singh at his residence late on Wednesday and registered their complaint after losing out to Ronjan Sodhi for the Khel Ratna nomination.
A volleball veteran
Tom Joseph,33,won his first Nationals title with Kerala as a 20-year-old.
Now a sports officer with Bharat Petroleum,Joseph has been part of the National team for over 15 years.
He captained the side that won the gold medal at the Rashid International tournament in Dubai in 2000.
Joseph has also competed in the Qatar League for three years (2001-2003).
He won the Jimmy George Award for the best sportsperson of Kerala in 2009.