The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has asked the All India Tennis Association (AITA) why Sania Mirza’s mother Nasima has been appointed as manager of the women’s tennis team for the London Olympics.
According to VK Malhotra, the IOA’s acting chief, the number of officials accompanying teams should not exceed 50 per cent of the total strength of the squad. Since seven tennis players have qualified for the Games, three officials were allowed to be part of the squad.
Mummy dearest: Sania Mirza with her mother Nasima at the SAAP Tennis Complex court in Hyderabad. PIC/AFP
However, the tennis players as well as the AITA were not satisfied with this. “There was a demand for individual coaches to go with each player, which we could not give in to. So, we decided that only three officials will stay with the team at the Athletes Village while the other two officials can come visiting on competition days.
“Thereafter, the national federation (AITA) informed us that Sania’s mother will be the team’s manager, and that she will be among the three officials staying at the Village. To this, we have put in a query asking AITA to explain the reasons for picking Sania’s mother as well as the other two officials and what will be their role,” explained Malhotra.
Nasima is the only non-specialised official among the five, the others being India’s Davis Cup non-playing captain SP Misra, Sanjay Singh (Leander Paes’ trainer), Shayamal Vallabhjee (Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna’s training consultant) and Milos Galecic (Somdev Devvarman’s physio).
This led to reports that she may have been picked to appease a disgruntled Sania, who claimed the AITA treated her unfairly while selecting the team for the Games. However, AITA later issued a statement clarifying that Nasima was picked due to her vast experience having previously been a part of the country’s Federation Cup and Asian Games teams, to assist the two female members in the Olympic team — Sania and Rushmi Chakravarthi.
Rushmi meanwhile, backed the appointment too. “One should not be looking at qualification in this context but instead consider the fact that Nasima is a very efficient manager. A manager is required to arrange things like practice courts or sort out travel details or food or other requirements of players and Nasima has handled all of this in the past with us really well. So, I’m convinced that she will be of great help to us at the Games,” Rushmi told MiD DAY yesterday.