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From Manu Bhaker to Deepika Kumari demands change, sports world angry after harassment of cyclist

New Delhi: The Indian sports world fears that incidents of physical abuse of female players by their coaches in a country where sport is still not considered a viable career option may discourage parents to send their daughters to the stadium. Such issues should be handled intelligently by the authorities in the opinion of current and former players.

A female cyclist recently shared a horrific incident that happened to her in Slovenia, in which the head coach of the team attempted to physically assault her. The cyclist was recalled to the country by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on his request and the coach was sacked, against whom the investigation is on. Many Indian athletes are still not aware of this incident but when they were told about it, they expressed a lot of anger.

Country’s top archer Deepika Kumari urged the officials to ensure the safety of women players and also asked all the players to disclose such incidents without any fear. The world number three player and three-time Olympian said, ‘It is a very shocking incident. You should throw out such persons. Our culture in sports is quite independent in which both boys and girls practice together, live under one roof and feel safe.

“These days parents are hesitant to send their daughters to sports. If such incidents keep coming to the fore, they will stop sending them to the Games. So it is up to the authorities to get these criminals out of the game. Safety is the most important thing.

SAI has made it mandatory for national sports federations to include women coaches in case a female player is in the squad. Shooter Manu Bhaker said that this thing is already present in his game. “We always have a lady coach or manager who travels with us on tours,” she said. That’s why I think every sport can adopt the same thing to ensure the safety of women players.

Shantha Rangaswamy, former captain of the Indian team and a member of the BCCI’s (Cricket Board of India) Apex Council, advocated the inclusion of more and more women in the running of the games. “In Karnataka cricket, we have women support staff for all age groups. If more women come into the game, it will not only make the environment safe but it will also help them in grooming their coaching career.

Sardar Singh, former captain of the Indian hockey team and coach of the national men’s team, said such incidents “defame Indian sports”. “The step taken by SAI is welcome,” he said. It should have been implemented earlier.

Badminton player Parupalli Kashyap said there should be no place for ‘such a person’. He said, ‘A country like America has also gone through this. Women players are mentally strong, they should find solution to the problem immediately but sometimes they feel ashamed and can’t tell. When this happens you feel the pressure.’

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