‘The Sports Ministry is a den of thieves. Officials are lethargic and are not doing their duties. My next step will be to put the house in order’, said the new Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage to the Sunday Times. Speaking further the Minister said, “I have already informed officials that they should get their whips cracking. I have also given them a time period. If things are not in order by this date line, I will have to take harsh action,” said a visibly perturbed Aluthgamage.
“I am not lazy and I do not expect my subordinates to be lazy. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised me funds to put sports affairs straight. I will be starting a new fund and with it where all sports will benefit,” said Aluthgamage.
When questioned whether he will interfere in matters pertaining to cricket, he said: “As far as I know the Cricket Board is going about its business with great intensity regarding the fast approaching World Cup from February to March next year. I have no intention of interfering in their affairs. If I set my hands in cricket at this juncture and if the venture fails the finger will be pointed towards me and they will say, it was the Sports Minister who mucked things up. Let’s wait and see. But definitely I have no intention in delving into cricket matters at this juncture,” said Aluthgamage.
There are widespread accusations that whatever Medals that our sportsmen have won in the past is due to performance enhancing drugs that they have been taking. In future all medal prospects will be taken over by the Sports Ministry. Before they embark on any foreign sports assignments, they will undergo rigid tests. The Ministry plans to set aside US Dollars 200 for each athlete for such tests, he said.
Continuing the Minister said that the Sports Ministry has its own Medical Unit and he expected them to do their job with dedication.
The Sports Minister said that the programme Kreeda Shakthi, where funds ranging from Rs. 1000 to 3000 is being given to athletes per month. “A total of nearly Rs. Three Million has been doled out to them. What have these athletes done with these monies? ” he asked and said that he intends to start his own fund to encourage athletes in the future and the present Kreeda Shakthi programme will be brought to an abrupt halt.
To a question how he will handle foreign tours in future Aluthgamage, said that he has not been appointed to grant each and every organization foreign trips according to their whims and fancies.
“The team for the recent Beach Volleyball Championships in Oman had seven officials.
I stepped in and trimmed the set of officials to four. In my opinion it is better to spend monies on poor athletes than on unwanted officials. Poor athletes will be able to make use of funds better,” emphasized the Minister.
“There are 54 Sports Federations in the country and most of them have only figurehead presidents. Some of them cannot even raise sponsors up to Rs. 50,000. What is the use of such presidents and federations? I intend to take such federations to task in the coming year and replace them if necessary with dynamic personalities who will give off a better deal to the sports they are involved in.
In conclusion the Minister said that in the coming year he wants to categorize various sports organizations and see what sports can march towards World Cup standards. “These sports will get special allocations to improve their performances,” he said.
He spoke ill of the women’s 100M Relay team at the recently concluded Asian Games in China. “To my knowledge these athletes had their own private differences and did not want to look at each other’s faces even. So naturally the baton changes were fouled. Also the Relay team should have one coach. In this instance the four relay runners had four coaches! Where is the team work here, he queried.
Minister Aluthgamage had begun with his whip cracking.