The SAI team lives up to the circumstances: athletes are first on Bengaluru campus despite staff shortages, limited essentials

BENGALURU: Although training has stopped at the Sports Authority of India Here in the south center, the facilities remain a hive of activity. About 100 athletes, including long-distance runners, men's and women's hockey teams along with the coaching staff, are currently on campus on the outskirts of the city.

While away from their families and sports, what keeps athletes in good health and spirit is SAI's sincerity.

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The blockade has affected staff attendance and limited supply of essentials, but SAI authorities have done everything possible for athletes to continue. In fact, staff strength has been reduced by less than half at the 81-acre facility with all departments, including security.

“The main areas of concern in these times is maintaining security and providing food to athletes, coaches and staff residing inside. From the third week of March, the entrance and exit are closed to everyone. The campus has been totally isolated from the outside world and works only with officials, staff and coaches residing inside. For essential services like cooking, housekeeping, among others, some staff members have received separate accommodation on campus, said SAI senior director Captain. Ajay Kumar Bahl (Indian Navy) told TOI.

To get past test times, coaches and staff, who reside on campus, have volunteered to help with daily tasks.

We have established a special Crown Volunteer Task Force for Safety and Disorder of Officers and Staff residing on campus. There are also strict instructions for everyone living inside to maintain social distance and hygiene, ”added Bahl.

ATHLETES ARE NOW EGGETARIANS

With the meat supply severely affected, athletes, most of whom are non-vegetarians, have had to go meatless. But eggs, milk-based products like paneer, cheese, and prescription supplements have met their protein requirements.

According to sources, players receive eggs twice a day and kitchen chefs are innovating with available resources. With many foreign coaches, there has also been no relief on continental plates.

“In the mess, the seating arrangements are made in a way to maintain social distance and no more than two people sit at a table during meals. Athletes have been asked not to come in a group for meals, ”said Bahl.

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WE ARE NO VOLTAGE

Race walker KT Irfan , who earned the Tokyo degree, said there could not have been a safer place for athletes. If we had returned home, our movement would have been severely restricted. Outside, fear of infection would have played on my mind the entire time. But here, the SAI campus is safe. Although we don't have any scheduled training, there are enough facilities to make sure we stay in shape. Our diet is also cared for, ”said the 30-year-old man.

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