Top-class athletes live in shocking conditions at SAI's Kandivli campus

Published: 22 October, 2013 10:02 IST | Amit Kamath |

Wrestlers like Sandeep Yadav and Narsingh Yadav forced to put up with makeshift bathrooms, filthy toilets and congested rooms

When Sandeep Tulsi Yadav clinched the bronze medal in Greco-Roman at the Wrestling World Championships in Budapest exactly a month ago, he cemented the status of Sports Authority of India’s Kandivli campus as the nerve centre of wrestling in the city.

Shame: An athlete bathes in a makeshift shower as the bathrooms are out of order

However, despite Sandeep’s feat, nothing much has changed at the centre for wrestlers, definitely not the dingy rooms that house the athletes or the repugnant sanitation facilities that they are forced to endure daily.

One of the toilets used by athletes. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

The hostel building housing the wrestlers, hockey and kabaddi players has 27 rooms — all of which reek of decay and neglect. Each room, roughly 100 sq feet in size, is inhabited by two or three athletes. The athletes can’t recollect when the hostel was last renovated.

The open-air bathroom area and toilets at the Sports Authority of India complex in Kandivli (E). Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Six toilets, 50 users
Besides the small rooms, the six toilets shared by over 50 athletes, are downright squalid. None have taps while their doors have holes. Bathrooms are effectively non-existent.

The structure that houses the bathing cubicles has been shut for reasons unknown, forcing athletes to bathe under taps in the open.

This set of bathrooms is not being used and has been locked away for reasons unknown. Pic/Amit Kamath

No athlete should live like this, more so athletes of the calibre of Sandeep and his roommate Narsingh Yadav, who was the city’s only Olympian at London 2012 and is also a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

A broken toilet door. Pic/Amit Kamath

Sandeep, who has spent 13 years here, is now accustomed to the appalling conditions. “We complained a few times but nothing happened. Irrespective of how we perform at the world stage and what medals we win, the conditions here don’t change.

Mattresses belonging to athletes are dumped outside their rooms due to lack of space inside. Pic/Amit Kamath

Luckily, Narsingh and I are frequently in Delhi for training camps, so we don’t have to bear this daily,” Sandeep told MiD DAY yesterday.

Jagmal Singh, the centre’s wrestling coach said, “Today we have two athletes winning medals on the world stage (Narsingh & Sandeep), but if facilities are better, tomorrow there will be 10 such athletes.

When athletes from other places hear that the Kandivli SAI centre provides great facilities, they too will come here to train with us.”

Sandeep still hopes for improvement. “The last Deputy Director Virender Bhandarkar was here for 11 years but never bothered to hear our grievances.

Sandeep Yadav
World Wrestling Championships bronze medallist Sandeep Yadav inside the congested room which he shares with London Olympics wrestler Narsingh Yadav at the Sports Authority of India complex. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

But, his successor Mr (Satish) Sarhadi asked us what problems we are facing as soon as he joined (four months ago).

Things can change,” he added. However, change will most likely have to hold its horses until the wrangling over authority is resolved.

A sportsman washes clothes in the open. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar 

The genesis of the problem lies in the agreement between SAI’s Director General and the Director of Sports and Youth Services (Pune) that was signed on August 30, 1989.

According to the agreement (a copy of which is with MiD DAY), the State allotted the land on which the Kandivli campus currently stands, to SAI, but agreed to undertake its maintenance.

Bureaucratic mess
The Deputy Director of the Kandivli campus, Sarhadi, claims he is helpless. “We can do basic maintenance work, but we have to take permission from the State Government before undertaking any renovation.

The Deputy Director of the Kandivli campus, Satish Sarhadi

There is so much bureaucracy and red-tapism that we can’t even carry out renovation work under Corporate Social Responsibility.

We had plans to build a new 100-bed hostel for athletes but the State Government wants us to take permission from them for every little thing,” said Sarhadi.

The Deputy Director of Sports and Youth Affairs, Mumbai division, Anand Venkeshwar remained unavailable for comment. Repeated calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.  

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