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Shooter Navnath Fartade aims for bullseye with Mumbai sports

Newly-appointed district sports officer and former Jr world champion shooter determined to make a difference at often-ridiculed DSO tournaments

Navnath Fartade’s cubicle on the second floor of the Rajiv Gandhi District Sports Complex in Dharavi is relatively uncluttered as compared to that of some of his colleagues across the hall in the modest non-air conditioned premises.

That’s because the newly-appointed district sports officer (Mumbai city region) is yet to plunge head-on into the piles of files that will help him conduct inter-school and inter-college competitions across more than sporting 50 disciplines.

Navnath Fartade
Mumbai city region’s district sports officer and former Jr world champion shooter Navnath Fartade at his Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex office in Dharavi yesterday. pic/atul kamble

District Sports Office-conducted tournaments are known to be shambolic given the lack of basic facilities for children and the care-a-damn attitude of some of its officials.

Shambolic events
Only recently mid-day reported about how an inter-school DSO tournament for teenaged girls had no changing room. Then, on Friday, most of the races at DSO’s Aquatic Championships had only two or three participants.

Fartade, who assumed office less about a month ago, is slowly but surely getting a grip of the situation and promises to bring about a sea change in the months to come, just as he turned things around at his previous posting in Kolhapur.

However, he warns that the two regions — Kolhapur and Mumbai are poles apart. "In Kolhapur, firstly the budget required to conduct competitions is less, and secondly, there is a lot of manpower to conduct tournaments efficiently. In Mumbai, it’s exactly the opposite. People complain that DSO tournaments are conducted shabbily, but they don’t realise that we operate on a shoe-string budget. And in a place like Mumbai, where operational costs are sky high coupled with a shortage of manpower — I have just two people with me to conduct tournaments — there are bound to be shortcomings," said Fartade, an ace marksman (10m air rifle), who won gold shooting a score of 596 out of 600 in the 2006 ISSF Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.

Class-I jobs
In 2011, Fartade and India kabaddi player Snehal Salunkhe, whom he replaced as the DSO here, were the only two sportspersons who chose to work in the District Sports Office when the state government offered Class-I jobs via the sports quota. The rest of the sportsmen picked posts in income tax, sales tax and revenue departments among others.

Sports officer by choice
"I have chosen to be part of the DSO because I want to help promote sport and sportspersons. Being an international athlete, I know I can do this. Thankfully, the government is loosening its purse strings and things will change very soon," said Fartade (28), referring to a recently released government resolution (GR) to increase the funding to the District Sports body.

More funds
"According to a newly released GR, more funds are going to be allocated to us (DSO) for tournaments. This will help transform the way we operate. And as far as the shortage of manpower is concerned, I will personally knock on doors of schools and colleges to ensure maximum participation for DSO events. More money and more participation will change the way DSO competitions are conducted," assured Fartade, who lives in the Mansarovar region of Navi Mumbai with his wife and parents.

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