In second wave, small sporting leagues struggling to survive

National Sports

Athletes say it’s tough to work out at home

Small sporting leagues that depend on training sessions for sustenance are struggling during the second wave of the Covid pandemic. Training centres, too, are running into losses with no players to train.

Arun Bhatt, director of the Stadium Football Club, Bengaluru, informed The Observer: “We have not been able to pay full wages to our coaches. We have made an agreement with them of paying only half of their salary. Some of them are in their villages, and paying them for no work can be taxing for the club.”

The club has been unable to train athletes for national tournaments because of the pandemic. “Most games are cancelled or postponed,” Bhatt added.

The Stadium Football Club has not been able to scout for new talent. It managed to conduct online sessions during the first wave, something it has not been able to do now. It is waiting for the lockdown to be lifted so that athletes can continue their practice.

Ucilia Pyngrope, a basketball player from Shillong, said that after the first wave, the impact of the pandemic was not as severe as it is now. He and his team were able to participate in a few sporting events.

The second wave has led to the cancellation or postponement of sport competitions. “It has also shut down our training centre which, in turn, affects our progress as a team. It’s really hard to keep up with the same intensity as before without proper practice,” he added.

However, Uclioan and his team are still trying to continue practice with some light workouts and ball-handling sessions at home. 

People running training centres say online training is not as effective as in-person training. It is not a great way to teach and learn when it comes to sports activities.

Jitin Prasad Behera, senior public relations manager of the Sport Hoodi Circle, Bengaluru, shared: “Revenue generated for the company relies on the number of athletes coming in for training. Some of our regular trainees have left the state because of the lockdown. It will take time for people to be confident to come back for training. The online activities that we have put up on our website are not very effective ….”

Mahatma Gandhi University student Midhulaj P.S. said: “I participate in university sports, but the complete lockdown has left us with no grounds to practise.” Though Midhulaj tries to stay fit, space and getting fresh air in a closed environment (home) remains an issue.

The proposal to conduct mass Covid testing of players and officials on the sidelines of competitions, according to medical analysts, is unlikely to happen at this time. Shortly, sports may be held in vacant arenas.

Coach Lokesh SP of the Jyothy Aquatic Centre said: “It has been months that I have not been paid my salary, and it has been difficult. We cannot approach the management regarding the salary as there is no work. It has been tough training the swimmers during online classes. Also, when the swimming pool was open, we had one-hour practice sessions in order to follow the SOPs given by the government.” 

It is difficult to follow SOPs in swimming, he said, as against sports like badminton and cricket, where social distancing can be maintained.

The global economic downturn caused by the pandemic could transform the sports sector in ways previously unimaginable.  International cricket is expected to adjust, but hockey seems to have a bleak future.

Top Indian athletes are unlikely to suffer financial hardship as the Union sports ministry has promised that their out-of-pocket expenses, monthly stipends and training-and-competition expenses will not be affected. Infrastructure ventures, on the other hand, will be cut.


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