Barely days after Hockey India's complaint of "dangerous" artificial turf at women's team training centre at Patiala, Sports Authority of India on Wendesday offered HI to shift the camp at other venues to repair the pitch.
HI High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans had recently written a letter to Sports Ministry, highlighting women team coach's complaint about the "dangerous" pitch at NIS Patiala. It had said that the poor condition of artificial turf there may affect the team's preparation for the upcoming Asian Games.
SAI Director General Jiji Thomson told a press conference here that HI can shift the women's national camp at any of the 12 venues in north India which has artificial turfs, including the one at Shilaroo in Himachal Pradesh.
"We have come to know that some of the artificial turfs' seams at the NIS Patiala pitch have come out but it is not a big one. It is a minor problem. We are sending a SAI team there tomorrow and these will be repaired in a few days," Thomson said.
"In the meantime while the repair work was being done, the women's team can train at any of the 12 centres in North India which have artificial turfs," he added.
Taking a dig at HI Secretary General Narinder Batra with whom he has been having a war of words, Thomson said the country has 103 artificial turfs at various centres and the SAI had never insisted on conducting national camps in New Delhi only.
"We have 103 artificial turfs in the country out of which some 20-odd are under the SAI. HI and foreign coaches want camps in Bangalore. Shilaroo SAI Center in Himachal Pradesh has excellent artificial turf and other facilities. HI does not want to hold camps there and everybody knows the reason why," Thomson said.
He said European countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and Australia have lesser number of artificial turfs than India but the national teams of these countries were giving better performance.
Interestingly, on Thomson's directions, video footages of women's team coach Neil Hawgood, who praised the SAI for the "excellent" facilities at the NIS Patiala, was being played during the press meet.
Thomson said the recording of Hawgood speaking to a "SAI personnel" was done just before the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The SAI DG also said that there would be an impartial review of the performance of all the foreign coaches employed by SAI after the Asian Games.
"We are spending a huge amount of money on foreign coaches and we will have an impartial review of their performance in all the sports after the Asian Games. That is necessary because they have to produce results," he said.
Thomson also suggested that India lacked legacy planning while hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi as many venues remained unused despite spending huge money for their maintenance.
"The government is spending a huge amount of money in the maintenance of the stadia built for Delhi Commonwealth Games. For example, the weightlifting indoor stadium at Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex has not held any weightlifting event in the last four years.
"We also cannot hold any cultural programme there though it can house 2200 people because it was built specifically for weightlifting and you cannot use the lifting platform as stage for cultural events. There is no proper lighting and acoustics needed for cultural programmes. So we are not being able to generate revenue by using them for cultural events.
"Had we thought out properly about the legacy of Delhi CWG, we would not have been in this situation," he added.
Thomson said that the experience at the Glasgow CWG was an eye opener that such multi-sporting events can be hosted at a lower cost though he said the Games was not up to the mark as far as food provisions and Athletes Village were concerned.
"In Glasgow Games, all the sports which can be held indoors -- boxing, wrestling, judo etc were held at makeshift venues. I feel that India could have done that at Pragati Maidan instead of constructing stadia. They used 1200 vehicles for transport while we had used 2000. It was an eye opener for me.
"But the food provisions were really bad in Glasgow and cannot be compared with those provided in 2010 Delhi. Indian athletes complained during Glasgow Games that food were bland in taste and they had difficulties in having them."