Chandigarh:Veteran tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi on Saturday said Government cannot be faulted for not putting enough money into sports as it had other priorities and corporates and private bodies should fill in the gap.
"Government has different priorities and sports definitely does not come on top. The Government still has to worry about large percentage of villages that are without electricity. We cannot really put them to fault for not putting too much money," Bhupathi told reporters. He felt corporates could promote and support budding talent in various sports disciplines including tennis.
Bhupathi was here to search for young talent for the second batch of Mission 2018 Challenge which is a quest by a corporate to develop Indian Singles Grand Slam champion by that year promising to pump in Rs 100 crore over the next ten years for this. The tennis player is the consultant of the project.
Asked if certain concerns of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), the apex organisation of the game, with regards to the project in the past had been settled, Bhupathi said, "we had a joint meeting with AITA officials at Bangalore yesterday. We told them that we are here to spot talent and create depth in the Indian tennis over the years to come." "They are the Federation. We are not here to bully them or get bullied," he said in response to a question.
He, however, did not disclose how much was being spent on the development of tennis by the corporate. Bhupathi's tennis village in Bangalore is where the company has arranged for the training of budding tennis players.
The AITA had earlier requested the corporate to make public their spending on the development of tennis excluding money spent on the advertisements.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on his blow-hot blow-cold relationship with top tennis player Leander Paes, he only said, "one thing is very clear we will play for the country...that will continue".
Regarding his upcoming events, he said he would start preparing next month for the Australian Open in January.
Asked if there was dearth of talent in the country, he said, "talent is abundant and available quite across the country, but we need to spot and support it. Chandigarh itself is a hotbed of tennis. We've had Sunil Kumar (Sipaeya) from here who came from rural Punjab".
Bhupathi praised upcoming talent Somdev Devvarman, saying "he's an exciting prospect and has shot through the rankings. He definitely has a lot of potential".