India’s ace tennis player Somdev Devvarman questioned the vision of All India Tennis Association (AITA) after pulling out of the planned Centre of Excellence in New Delhi due to a drastic budget cut.
The Sports Ministry and AITA had mutually agreed to invest Rs 20 crore, on the lines of the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, but eventually, the budget was reduced down to Rs 10 crore.
“We had made plans on basis of a budget that was agreed upon. We created the plan around that and if it doesn’t follow through, then it’s impossible.” Somdev told PTI.
“Tennis is an international sport and to get the best international specialists, you need to pay international prices.”
Somdev insisted that his own remuneration was not the issue.
“I was never doing it for remuneration and never got paid for it. It was a passion project. Honestly, I don’t have hard feelings but I want to see another option which is better and it works.” he said.
Somdev questions AITA over the long-term vision for Indian tennis
Somdev said THAT difficult questions need to be asked to AITA since funding was not the only issue of contention in the derailment of the plan but did not get into the specifics.
“Sometimes I am terribly mistaken for being unfriendly with the AITA. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not attacking anyone but just asking straight-forward questions.” he asserted.
‘Disagreed with the players’ funding’
Asked to mention the issues on which he and AITA differed, he said that one of the issues was support for players.
“I disagreed with the funding of players. The top players were least concerned for me, the players should have a system to support them. It was having a group of coaches to help out U-14, 16, 18.” he said.
“Like, Jack Sock who worked with 3-4 different coaches from USTA. They were not funding him personally but they were funding a system which helped him and everybody from juniors. That’s what I wanted to do,” Somdev added.
Somdev also insisted that money alone doesn’t produce players and cited the example of Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who he thinks is getting success only in the last a couple of years despite having the resources to sustain.
“You can never see success in one or two years. You look at an 18-year-old and you pick a kid who is 12. You support the 12 years of age aspirant for 5-6 years and you will see that he will become much better than what that 18-year-old is now.” he said.
Somdev also on a lighter note said, “he never thought life after retirement would be like this at age of 33″.
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