8/26/2018 4:04:54 PM (GMT+3)

'Board’ exam of another kind for Goan sailor siblings at Asian Games

MARGAO, Goa: Dayne and his sister Katya Coelho are the only athletes from Goa at the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. But making it to the continental competition was not an easy task after the state government failed to provide them with windsurfing boards.

The siblings are currently competiting in the RS: One Mixed Team event for sailors below the age of 22 years and was held at the Games for the first time.

Coached by their father Donald, a former national windsurfing champion for three
consecutive years from 2010-12, the Coelho siblings will be vying for medals in
the mixed event.

At the last Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, India managed to get just one medal in sailing—Varsha Gautham-Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan won bronze in the women's 29er category.

Lack of transparency and poor asset management has dogged most sports bodies in the country and the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), Goa government’s sports wing, is just another chapter of the same story.

Dayne (20) has been representing India in the Youth Olympic Class for boys over the last few years and his last medals, a silver and a bronze, came at the 37th Singapore Open Windsurfing Championship in January this year.

 Katya (19), a student of Ardee School in Penha de França, could not keep up to the international participation for various reasons and the Youth Olympic Games held from August 16 to 28, 2014, in Nanjing, China, was her last international assignment.

“I had an earnest desire to leave something in this world and a profound desire to rub it in the face of anyone who doubted me....,” Dayne wrote on his social media post with a picture of him draped in the tri-colour after his wins in Singapore.

Cold shouldered and neglected by SAG, the teenager is scripting his own success story against all odds.

“The kids are not the products of the system; the father has coached them from an early age, invested lots of money. He coaches them, accompanies them on foreign tours. So he is everything for them. The SAG has not provided him with any support and when he asked for support in the form of two windsurfing boards, they delayed his proposal and finally he had to go with old boards and he had to rush to Singapore to get second hand board,” said Morris Sequeira from Margao, a family friend of the Coelhos.

The Coelhos booking a place in the Asian Games squad is in large measure due to financial and technical support of the family without much help from the system, their supporters claim.

The family’s request, vetted to the state government through SAG to buy two new windsurfing boards, never materialized till August 3, the date when the Coelhos left Goan shores for Jakarta with their old boards.

It is not the general practice for state associations to help athletes with kits, but Coelho was trying for assistance from the SAG.

Sailors representing India at any international event are funded by the National Sports Federation. In case of sailing, it is the Yachting Association of India, with the permission of Sports Authority of India and the Ministry of Sports. However, the state sports federation for Goa, SAG, has the option of funding talented and potential sportspeople for international exposure to improve the overall standard of sports in the state.

On August 20, both Goa Yatching Association (GYA) president Siddharth Satardekar and SAG executive director VM Prabhudessai stated that the family’s proposal has been approved by the government but both of them were not forthcoming on the exact dates.

“The file for the procurement of this equipment has been approved and amount sanctioned. I do not have the exact dates of the file being sanctioned but SAG had cleared and forwarded the file in July itself,” informed Satardekar.

With the new windsurfing boards not coming through Donald had to air dash to Singapore on Monday to get atleast one new board with the limited financial resources at his command.

Each board costs around Rs 6 lakh. He paid $700 for a second-hand one in Singapore and he is also using a leased one for which he paid $800.

One of the siblings used an old windsurfing board while the other used the board their father bought from Singapore.

Explaining the reason for taking time off from his coaching duties to fly to Singapore, Donald said before the finals on Friday that questions arose in their minds as to whether they will stand a chance with the old equipment at their disposal.

“The children were disturbed looking at all the other sailors with brand new equipment and feared whether their efforts will bear the necessary fruit,” informed Donald.

Dayne says they are ready for the task and have taken everything in their stride. “We are concentrating on the task ahead of us. We are not distracted by the off-field events. We were upset initially—we are only human. Such hurdles are part of life,” he said.

Donald added: “We thank the Yachting Association of India, especially Capt. Ajay Narang, who stood by Goan talent and strongly recommended our case to MYAS/SAI for a three-week training in Thailand in May. But the most disheartening part was that the proposal to procure two boards is pending for more than four months.”

In April 16-22, YAI shortlisted sailors for a two-phased coaching camp and trials in Chennai.  The top four were selected and sent to Jakarta for training and based on that performance, the Indian team for the Asian Games was finalised.

“The state has so much talent. But the sports authorities are giving step-motherly treatment to its athletes. It took these two athletes so many years to reach this level and even then their (the authorities’) eyes have not opened when it comes to providing support in terms of equipment,” the athletes’ maternal aunt Nellie Coelho said.