Railway archers face the brunt

The de-recognition of the Archery Association of India has jeopardized the careers of archers employed with the Railways as they have been asked not to take part in any tournament conducted by the AAI.

The Railways Sports Promotion Board, in a circular dated March 22, has stated that the players and officials will “not be allowed” to participate in any event which will be conducted by the suspended AAI till further orders.

“Besides the sports achievements in the event conducted by the AAI shall also not be considered for recruitment, incentives and other establishment matters till further orders,” the circular, which has also been sent to the suspended Indian Boxing Federation, added.

The AAI has picked a 16-member India contingent for the World Cup Stage I and Stage II that comprises six RSPB archers — Rahul Banerjee (men’s recurve); Dola Banerjee, Laishram Bombayla Devi, Rimil Biruly (all women’s recurve); Gagandeep Kaur and Manjudha Soy (both women’s compound).

These archers have been picked by the AAI-conducted National-ranking Archery Tournament in Jamshedpur last week. The Railways archers had to come on their own, defying the RSPB circular.

“We had to take leave and come here at our own risk. Railways had already conveyed that they would not take any responsibility of us as the AAI is a suspended body now,” a top Railways archer said on condition of anonymity.

“In the tussle between the AAI and the government, we are turning out to be the losers. It’s our careers that’s at stake,” he added, referring to 16-odd Railways archers who currently figure in the national camp.

In fact, the archers are not sure whether the RSPB would recognise the World Cup which is conducted by FITA, the world body. “We are competing in the first two World Cups but for the remaining tournaments, there would be a separate AAI selection trial. We have taken a risk this time (in competing in the National Ranking). But next time, we can’t take a risk,” the archer added.

In fact, it’s not only the seniors, the junior archers are also suffering as their job applications with the Railways are pending since AAI’s suspension in December last year.
Confirming the development, AAI Secretary General Anil Kamineni termed the circumstances unfortunate but hoped for a solution soon.