The beneficiaries under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) will be thoroughly reviewed after the upcoming Asian Games and the administrative mechanism of the programme will be completely overhauled, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said.
Under the TOP Scheme, some 180-odd athletes are currently getting financial assistance from the government for their training to prepare for the Asian Games and 2020 Olympics.
“We will have an entire restructuring of the TOP Scheme. First, we will have a complete review of the beneficiaries after the Asian Games. Many of them are there in the list in view of the Asian Games,” SAI Director General Neelam Kapur told reporters. Asked if there would be drastic reduction in the number of beneficiaries, she said, “Let us wait for the Asian Games to be over.”
“We as a country are not currently at a stage where we can win a lot of medals (in Olympics). The idea is to nurture talented and deserving athletes. Ten years down the line, TOPS may be only for athletes preparing for Olympics.”
Regarding the administrative aspect of the TOP Scheme, she said, “There will be a secretariat of the Mission Olympic Cell and we are going to outsource (the secretarial work) to some professional firm.
“There will be a High Performance Manager at the top and there will be an Athlete Relation Manager who will have direct communication with elite athletes. It will be much more focussed. The idea is to have the best professional management which will also be made accountable and transparent in its functioning,” she said.
She said the SAI will be restructured into a “leaner and more professional body” focussed on dealing with the core sporting activities.
“We will still look after core sporting activities but will have partners and will out source non-core activities,” she said. “We are a Society and we cannot function as a government department. The idea is to serve the athletes and Indian sports and not to act as a regulator. Sports Ministry is the regulator and policy maker and SAI is not. The word Authority has been removed and we will registered as Sports India with the trademark authority.”
Kapur said the SAI would not interfere in the controversy surrounding the exclusion of some sports by Indian Olympic Association from the country’s Asian Games contingent.
“Selection of teams is the prerogative of NSFs and IOA and we should let them do that job. The (aggrieved) federations have made their representations (to the IOA) and they (IOA) will deal with that. We do not come into the picture and we are not going to do anything.”
IOA president Narinder Batra had recently disapproved of Khelo India’s selection of hockey players for training at the academies run by the government, saying that the concerned NSF was not involved in the exercise.
Asked about this, Kapur said, “Every selection has been done with full involvement of the federations. We have not kept any NSF out of this process. We have a High Power Committee and the IOA sends its representative. Batra’s representative (Lalit Bhanot) was there. He (Bhanot) is privy to whatever decision we have taken.”
Kapur also said that the performance of foreign coaches working with various NSFs but under the payrolls of SAI will be be reviewed after the Asian Games.
“In fact, after Commonwealth Games we had put some coaches on notice. As of now, we have not thrown out any foreign coach but we have told some of them that we are watching you.
“If we are spending a lot of money on foreign coaches, they are accountable to us and they have to give results. If a federation says a coach is doing good, we will go by it. But we will have a thorough review and non-performing foreign coaches will have to go.”
She also informed that the Governing Body yesterday approved the doubling of salary of coaches at the SAI academies. This move, in some cases, will put the salary of SAI Academy coaches at par with elite athlete coaches at the national camps.
“The salary of the coaches at the SAI academies has been doubled while the salaries of the support staff such as doctor, physio has been enhanced,” she said.
SAI Deputy Director General Sandip Pradhan said a coach at SAI academy can now get a maximum of Rs 2 lakh salary per month, a jump from earlier Rs 1 lakh. He said Indian High Performance coaches at the national camps also get Rs 2 lakh salary while the chief coaches pocket Rs 1 lakh per month.