With the prices of food products, milk, vegetables, etc, skyrocketing, food contractors have been finding it difficult to continue providing diet service to players under the state sports department.
Notably, in Ludhiana, the state department provides diet to around 700 players including 400 players from school wings and 300 from the sports wings of colleges.
After a fall in Covid cases in the state, the service was resumed in October last year by the government, but was again withdrawn in January this year after a rise in Covid-19 cases.
According to the officials of the sports department, even when the state government directed the department to restore the food service for the players, the contractors refused to serve the meals at the current fixed rates, citing inflation.
₹200 each per day for residential players
The Punjab government, at present, is paying ₹200 each per day for residential players or students, mostly staying in college hostels here in Ludhiana as the local sports’ department does not have any hostel to accommodate the players.
Day scholars or players who don’t stay in hostels, however, get ₹100 each per day.
The sports department has hired contractors in each district to supply meals to players in lieu of the aforesaid funding, which according to the sources is not sufficient for the food contractors.
A contractor has to provide 1 kg milk, four bananas, 200 gm almonds and eggs to day scholars every day.
Meanwhile, a contractor is accountable to provide at least four meals a day that include milk, bread omelet, eggs, butter, stuffed flatbread (pranthas) in breakfast; rice, vegetables, plain bread (chapati), pulses, salad and one seasonal fruit in lunch; evening snacks and non-veg or cheese vegetable in the dinner to the residential players.
“The contractors now want the government to increase the funds for the diet and have expressed helplessness to continue the service at the same price. Most of the players belong to humble backgrounds and can’t afford proper diet that they require to train players for national or international competitions.” a sports official here said.
Director-sports chairs meeting in Chandigarh
After receiving complaints and pleas from numerous district sports officers, a meeting was chaired by the director-sports Rajesh Dhiman in Chandigarh regarding the same.
The district sports officers requested the director to increase the funds for the diet contractors, contending that no contractor was ready to continue the service at current price due to inflation, which was affecting the growth and training of athletes.
When asked about the diet issue directly impacting the players, district sports officer, Ravinder Singh, Ludhiana, said director-sports is concerned about the welfare of players and thus, would soon come out with a solution for the same.
“We have requested the contractor here to continue the food service for players with an assurance that the funds would soon be increased,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, a food contractor said the department has requested the contractors to continue the diet service by reducing a few food items to manage the cost, assuring that the funds would soon be raised.