Why do you need a manager?
Today while reading the newspaper I came across an article where India’s new tennis sensation Zeel Desai says that adverse situations bring out the best in her.
That’s the life of a sports person, isn’t it ? You fight, you win, you lose. But as I read further, I was compelled to revisit the meaning of a few terms. What do you mean by a manager?
After becoming the first Indian girl in 65 years to reach the pre quarter finals in Singles Girls at this year’s Wimbledon Junior, Zeel Desai and Siddhant Bhantia travelled to the Bahamas to represent India at the Commonwealth Youth Games. By the way, Pune hosted the CYG in 2008 and Bahamas is approximately 13500 km from Delhi by air.
Back to the plot, these 18 year olds had to travel to the CYG at Bahamas without a manager. What does this mean?
For a layman, What’s the big deal about ? They are players, representing the country, travelling at the expense of tax payers, What is the fuss about? Currently our Men’s cricket team is without a manager in Sri Lanka, the media manager of the team has to double up as team manager.
Let us try and understand the profile of a team manager in sports.
Google gave me the definition of a manager as “a person responsible for controlling or administering an organization or group of staff”.
Sports managers handle the basic organization and scheduling of their clients. Both individual athletes and entire organizations hire sports managers to see that everything off the field goes smoothly.
So what if you don’t have a manager with you on tour? In a country obsessed with extravagant success or total failures, we have forgotten the process. Just imagine if Zeel and Siddhant were you kids and they were sent to the Bahamas on a vacation, what sort of preparations would you do as a parent?
I would like to share my recent experience of our tour to England and Wales during the Champions Trophy 2017. Our manager was Mr Syed Humayun Qaiser, a thorough gentleman, a wonderful broadcaster who has also played 13 Ranji matches for Jammu and Kashmir.
He had to take care of our air tickets, hotel bookings, manage travel between London, Birmingham and Cardiff, daily local travel from hotel to stadium and back, Commentary box positions, ISDN lines, laisoning with ECB/ICC, Coordinate back home with All India Radio, Coordinate with the Indian High Commission, Maintain the paperwork at airports for clearance of equipment, food coupons and much more.
As a sports buff he also doubled up as our statistician during matches and of course as our official photographer too.
Apart from uncountable chores, he also had to keep a track of contingencies. What if someone was sick, someone lost luggage or their passport, someone actually got lost in the city, someone left unannounced, someone had a tiff or fight, something went wrong with commentary, the ISDN lines went kaput, a team-member was robbed of valuables…. The list is endless.
We did trouble him constantly for hot beverages during the matches, but the man was up to the task every time.
In context to Zeel and Siddhant, one of the most important task of the manager would also be to launch any official protest in case of any dispute during play. This happens primarily in multi sport events like the Commonwealth games, Asian Games or the Olympics, where your athlete is barred or disqualified or ruled against in circumstances.
Hence the selection of a person to be deputed as manager is also very critical. Most of time parents or friends double up as managers when someone plays at the district or state level. What happens when you travel abroad? The least our association could do was provide these kids or the Indian cricket team with a manager.
Zeel and Siddhant returned home with 2 gold medals in tennis for India at the CYG. For most of us it absolves the situation and association of everything as the young kids managed not just to travel without a manager but ended up winning a few medals.
We cannot conveniently forget the individuals needed to complete this process in any sport. It’s high time that we value sports, sports persons, the effort and the individuals needed to support this system. We need to train our kids about these aspects, we need to train ourselves in order to understand the importance of a support staff and who would actually qualify to become one.
With the BCCI not able to find a suitable candidate among the applications received for the post of the manager of the Indian cricket team, I am sure most of us, including myself have started to hone our skills so that the next time sports associations in India may not be able to give an excuse of not finding an unsuitable character for the post of manager, even if they may not want to send one. Pun unintended!!!
Till then athletes have to manage things themselves and carry the burden of huge expectations of their victory obsessed countrymen and women of course.