Sania Mirza is the new sports icon amongst the youngsters. She is having a phenomenal run for the past one and a half years. Her exemplary performance in various tournaments, considering the fact that she is trained in India where tennis is popular among hardly 0.001% of the people, is something that deserves a large merit. Sania is inside the top 50 in world rankings and is going strong. The US Open website is predicting a very bright future for her. According to them, she has one of the most powerful forehands in the woman tennis and shows promise. Last Monday, I was infront of TV at 1 in the night to see her playing against Sharapova. I was actually stunned to see her forehands and cross court backhands. Sharapova, the current No. 1, was struggling against her forehands and cross court shots which went booming all around the court. I strongly believe Sania has a bright future ahead. A couple of short comings in her game are her weak second serve and the number of unforced errors she is making. If she is able to improve her second serve and curtail the number of unforced errors, she should be a formidable force in the women’s tennis in the near future.

True, Sania has worked her way up. She has really toiled for each of the penny she is getting and the huge fan following she is enjoying right now. She has set some realistic short term aims for herself and has, so far easily achieved all of them. Her goal for 2005 was to get into the top 50, and she comfortably accomplished it by the beginning of August. She was always focused on her game. The fame and money has not adversely affected her game. We can observe her determination when she speaks about her goals. During her earlier days, I remember reading an article in which her father was saying, “She has great talent in her and I see a bright future for her. For that, we need to train her. We don’t have enough money to train her. We hope the government would help us in this aspect”.

I am not sure whether the government did anything about this. I strongly believe they didn’t bother to help her when needed. Now, when her career graph is shooting up, when her stakes have increased from 20 lakhs in Nov 2004 to 1.5 crores now, when she is only next to the great Sachin in terms of the sponsorship money, the bureaucrats woke up. They decided its time to give her some consolation for her efforts, and they gave her Rs 20 lakhs. The question here is, does she actually need it? The answer is a big NO.

Of course Sania is not the only one to be rewarded by the government. The cricket stars, who actually are the highest earners of the country, get occasionally such rewards from the government where as an Asian Games Medalist or National Champion in athletics will get not more than a central government job, the reason being, they are not a brand value. Take the case of Anju Bobby George or Bobby Alosyius or Beena Mol. Not many people know about them. Since the sports facilities in India, are far below par, they went for foreign training, taking cash out from their kitty. Where was the great government then? The National Hockey team was struggling for a number of years for sponsorship, when the cricket team was relishing with lump sum grants. Remember the achievements of the Hockey team are gallons more than that of the cricket team. It’s just that cricket is the flavor of people right now. Even inside cricket there are double standards. National Cricket is not given as much importance as the India tour of Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. But for this, BCCI is responsible. They expect cricketers to come up with their own efforts and then sell them. Ironically BCCI is the richest cricket board in the whole world. What about women’s cricket? Does anyone care about that?

This attitude should be changed. The Government is interested only to doing things which will be a headline in all the leading newspapers. Who will report if the government is giving aid to Bobby Aloysius or Beena Mol? They deserve only a government job, right? If the Rs 20 lakhs given to Mirza is given to any of the above, probably, India would have produced another big name in world sport. That would have created another sporting icon in the country. That would have made every Indian feel proud of them and many more youths would have taken up long jump or high jump ahead of cricket or tennis. I believe the only persons who choose athletics or football as their career are the ones from poor families, who find no other way to procure a government job. So, I believe that the government has wasted our money by giving it to Sania. But this will be a big credential for them; this will be best instance to highlight the government’s interest in sports. I am not saying that Sania doesn’t deserve that financial aid, of course she deserves much more that that, what I am saying is that there are people who need that money more than her.

Kudos to the Government. Long live Rajasekhar Reddys………….