Harendra Singh, chief coach of the Indian men’s hockey team, has written a letter to Hockey India complaining about the poor quality of food and hygiene level at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Bengaluru.
“I would like to bring to your kind notice that food quality at Bangalore SAI center has been well below par with a professional unit – excessive oil and fat throughout, bones with lack of meats. Moreover insects, bugs, and hair were also found in the food. Sir, I would also like to inform you that hygiene part has also been neglected,” Harendra wrote in his mail.
Harendra further revealed that they had conducted blood tests of all 48 athletes– who are currently training at SAI centre in Bengaluru ahead of the Champions Trophy– and that the results have revealed a food-related deficiency in some of the players.
“The kitchen utensils which are used to prepare food are unhealthy. We are preparing for the upcoming Champions Trophy, Asian Games, and World Cup. It is vital for these high-performance athletes to have meals which consist of entire nutrition. Recently we conducted blood tests on all 48 athletes and the blood report found many food related deficiencies in some athletes, which act as a hindrance to perform at the optimum level,” the chief coach of the Indian men’s hockey team said.
Harendra also pointed out that the quality of food is sub-standard despite Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Rathore had given instructions during his visit to the center prior to the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games in April.
“Before CWG during our one of the camp, Hon’ble Sports Minister visited the camps given instruction to competent that within 48 hrs these complain must be addressed. But in spite of Hon’ble Minister Saheb instruction no change is visible,” the chief coach said.
He concluded his mail by requesting Hockey India to look into the matter and help in resolving the problem as soon as possible.
Soon after receiving the complaint, Hockey India president Rajinder Singh has written to President of Indian Olympic Association Narinder Dhruv Batra, saying that such issues affect the performance of the players at the optimum level while also requesting their indulgence in the matter.
“We request for your indulgence and IOA intervention to get the food, hygiene and cleanness issues sorted out at SAI Bangalore in case IOA is looking for good performance for Indian Men and Women Hockey Teams. Such issues affect in the overall/preparation of the elite teams and the optimum/peak performance,” Rajinder said.
In reply to the letter from Harindra Singh and Hockey India, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra wrote to SAI Director General Neelam Kapur to address the issue seriously.
“I am forwarding the trailing emails received from Harendra Singh, Chief Coach Indian Senior Men Hockey Team and forwarded to me by President Hockey India. Hon’ble Minister had visited SAI centre Bangalore couple of months back and he is aware of this situation concerning the athletes and their food issue, hygiene issues etc,” Batra said.
“It is a couple of months now, I humbly request SAI to kindly take care of food quality, hygiene, cleanness etc at SAI centre Bangalore in the interest of health and performance of elite athletes. If we expect elite athletes to perform at their best, then we also need to provide them with the best,” he added.
On a related note, India are slated to play Champions Trophy from June 23 to July 1 in Breda, Netherlands.