OGQ to eye grassroot talent

General : Federations need to take a cue from us, says Padukone

OGQ to eye grassroot talent

 Badminton legend Prakash Padukone, the co-founder of Olympic Gold Quest, said the organisation will slowly start focusing on grassroot talent that needs such professional assistance a lot more.

Currently, out of 70 athletes under OGQ’s wing, 24 are youngsters and Padukone said the number is bound to rise as they become more established.

“We have already started at tapping grassroot talent,” said Padukone during a function here on Tuesday along with fellow co-founder Geet Sethi, director board member Viswanathan Anand and boxer Sarita Devi, who is supported by the OGQ, founded to fuel India’s Olympic medal dreams.

“We will definitely expand and that’s always been our intention. We always say that the grassroots is where actual funding and support is required. Once you reach the top, there are many people, organisations and foundations willing to support.

“But first, OGQ had to make a name for itself which will enable it to raise funds. We thought it would be better to identify people at the top who have opportunity to win medals. Now that we are more established and people know about OGQ, we know it is comparatively easier for us to raise funds. From my personal experience, raising funds is not a problem, so it’s a natural progression that we have gone to the bottom level and started supporting athletes. We hope that the scholarship athletes we support will represent the country in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.”

OGQ CEO Viren Rasquinha also echoed Padukone’s thoughts. “At the grassroot level there is a lot of churn. The weeding out process at the junior level is very important because the data available is lot less. With respect to international athletes, most of the data is easily available but with the juniors, it’s sheer instincts when we decide to rope them.”

Padukone also suggested the federations to pick up cue from OGQ on how to function in a transparent and professional manner. “The biggest USP of OGQ is its credibility and transparency. One of the best things we have done is that we raise funds for our athletes, after which it is the athletes who decide how to use that money. This is because we believe that different sportspersons have different requirements. Athletes know best what they want and need.

“Everyone needs to work together in a professional way. I hope that all Indian sports federations run like OGQ. I hope even the Indian Olympic Association learns lessons from us. I know it won't happen in our lifetime, but hopefully it will happen some day,” he quipped.

“If the federations were doing their job very well, there is no need for OGQ to be there,” said Rasquinha. “When our athlete gets injured, he doesn’t call the federation simply because there is a huge delay in response. With us, the reply is instantaneous. We are available 24/7 unlike the federations.

“Within one hour, the athlete is taken to the best possible doctor in the country. Having said that, we are not against the federations. We work within the system and it’s non-confrontational. My team is paid and we just try to do the best job we can.”

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