Foreign coaches’ contract extended to keep athletes on track

The Indian sports ministry took the decision to ensure there’s steady support for the athletes in the run-up to the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games as well.

By Subhayan Dutta

Nine foreign coaches and support personnel, including the High-Performance Director of athletics, had their contracts extended by the Indian sports ministry on Saturday.

With Indian athletics contingent preparing for the Tokyo Games next year, the ministry aims to build on that performance and continue all the way through the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

In July, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) extended contracts of 32 foreign coaches, across 11 disciplines until September 2021 to ensure continuity. The latest extension is for similar reasons.

“There is a well-defined roadmap ahead for our athletes as we eye the best of preparations for 2024 and 2028 (Olympic Games),” Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju said.

“This decision to extend the contract of the coaches will benefit our athletes as there will be a continuation of their training with the same coach.

“Coaches play the most vital part in moulding our athletes to reach the elite level and this also improves India’s chances in various major international events going ahead,” Rijiju added.

Anju Bobby George believes practising under one coach will fetch consistent results for athletes.

World Championship bronze medallist in long jump and Olympian Anju Bobby George echoed similar views.

“This is a very welcome move and will benefit athletes in a big way. In athletics, more than in other disciplines, techniques and continuous training are very important, since the competition season is usually very long,” Anju Bobby George said.

“Being with the same coach benefits an athlete because the coach can then predict how an athlete will react during competition and guide an athlete accordingly.

“With foreign coaches especially, communication is often an issue, and only if a coach trains an athlete long enough can they understand each other well and the athlete can draw out the best from the training,” Anju, an Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist, added.

The performance of the foreign coaches and staff will be reviewed on a yearly basis, with athletes’ performance at the major international events to be the yardstick of their efforts.