Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath De Sarkar made India proud after they clinched a gold medal in men’s pair bridge competition in Asian Games 2018. Despite their outstanding performance, the two are awaiting official blazers to wear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reception ceremony, scheduled on September 5.
The players had been requesting the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to provide them India’s official blazers but the association did not pay any heed. So now, the winning pair decided to get the IOA logo stitched on blazers on their own.
Non-playing captain cum coach Debasish Ray was livid with the authorities during the felicitation ceremony arranged on the sidelines of the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club. He said,
“We have not been provided blazers with India’s logo for the Prime Minister’s reception ceremony. I am not even invited. Initially, we were told that we will not get any kits but later (after sports ministry’s intervention) we got the jerseys but we have not still received the team blazers. We plan to stitch the IOA logo on our own blazers and attend the function. We are left with no other option.”
Had it been for IOA, India would have been robbed of a few medals in the recently concluded Asian Games. The Indian contingent for the games were initially refused by the IOA. Ray revealed that it was the intervention of HCL chief Shiv Nadar who helped them play their maiden Asian Games.
While Indian gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman was promised Rs 10 lakh as prize money and a government job from West Bengal government, Bridge players still await recognition from the state government.
It’s not the money they are concerned about, all they want is an infrastructure for the Bridge players so that the sport could flourish in the country. De Sarkar said,
We don’t want money but what we want is a permanent place to play and discuss bridge, in a centrally located area so that players can come easily… It need not be huge but a hall would do.
According to the skipper Ray, they had to pay Rs 7-8 lakh as rent for the allotted venue, Biswa Bangla Convention Centre in New Town for the national tournament.