Indian hockey captain backs Chirag Shetty's demands for equality in sport

Badminton News: Badminton player Chirag Shetty's comments on the Maharashtra government ignoring his achievements while rewarding the state's cricketers for winning the T20 World Cup have stirred up a hornet's nest.

The world number 3 in men's doubles played a crucial role in India's maiden Thomas Cup victory in 2022. However, Chirag Shetty was not given credit for his efforts. After seeing the cricketers feted, the aggrieved player told TOI on Sunday that “if the state government can honour the World Cup-winning stars, it should also honour it and treat other sports in the same manner”.

Apart from his Thomas Cup success, Chirag Shetty has also won gold medals in men's doubles at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and bronze at the World Championships. The 27-year-old Malad resident now has the support of prominent sportspersons in the city, who are urging the state government to revive the situation by rewarding Chirag. Uday Pawar, Chirag's coach and mentor, feels that his team's achievements are comparable to those of cricketers and he should be rewarded for it.

Former Indian hockey captain MM Somaya said he sympathised with Chirag as “winning the Thomas Cup is a truly historic feat”. He added that the state government could make amends by announcing an award just before the start of the Paris Olympics, which would be good “for his morale too”.

Pawar, a former Asian Games medallist and the city's chief badminton coach, said: “I am not comparing sports, but like cricketers have brought honour to Maharashtra, so has Chirag Shetty. I think his achievements are at par (with cricketers).) A person who has brought honour to the country should not make claims, but the state should recognise his own efforts.”

He added that actors should not seek recognition and state governments should instead have a mechanism whereby they can be rewarded when they have done something of national importance.

“I think the state sports department should be more active. They should do their own homework and know who are the best players in Maharashtra. If they don’t know his achievements, then the department is not functioning properly. They should have people who will stay in touch with the respective state associations and know the latest developments regarding the performances of their players,” Pawar said.

Somaya said, “I completely agree with Chirag Shetty and I understand his position very well. Since he is the only player from Maharashtra, he deserves recognition. It doesn't have to be in the huge amount that they give to cricketers, but somehow, he should get an award. He is seeking recognition from the state government, which I think is right and I think it would be right even if the state government did it now. He is one of the major players from Maharashtra to participate in the Olympics and has a good chance of winning a medal with Satwik.”

He also urged the state government to adopt a “consistent policy” to reward players from other sports as well. “They should reward players as soon as they know that someone from the country has achieved something great. It should be a standard process. One cannot apply. Someone should feel proud when the state government recognises its own players,” Somaya said.

Article tag: Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Paris Olympics 2024

Cheryl Tenny

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