India's Rugby Squad Slogs without Right Diet

By Bharat Sharma

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The Indian rugby squad for the Commonwealth Games is sweating it out in Pune without receiving the nutritional supplements and the computer software to develop the skills.

The players say they have been hearing about the food supplements for a year now without getting them, while the software worth Rs 2 lakh was sanctioned eight months ago and it is still to arrive.

Rugby is a physical sport and the food supplements are a must if rugby players have to develop strength and stamina without which they will only be going through the motions on the field.

Usaia Buimaiwai, head coach of the Indian team which has been undergoing training at the Balewadi Sports Complex for over a month now, says that the boys were carrying on without the all-important nutritional supplements and without the opportunity of analysing their strengths and weaknesses.

"The supplements are important for a rugby player. It is a physical sport and high amount of proteins and carbohydrates form the key part of the diet. These supplements help strengthen muscles," Usaia, who is from Fiji, told IANS.

He said without the software to analyse the game, the training is hampered with barely two months to go for the New Delhi Games.

"The software is essential if we have to scientifically analyse the performance of the players during the match and practice sessions. We can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of a player, his speed and his tackling skills with the software, without which it is difficult to tell him where he is going wrong," said Shailesh Devrukhkar, the team's assistant coach.

As a reminder, he says the software was sanctioned by the Sports Authority of India eight months ago.

The head coach also complained about the food being served at the Pune complex. " The food served is not rich in proteins and carbohydrates which is essential for a sport like rugby," Usaia said. He also said that the training ground for the players is not up to the world standards and players get bruised diving on the field.

SAI officials, however, insist that the facilities for rugby in Pune are the best in the country.

"We have given them two grounds, one for training and the other for match practice. The grounds are the best we have in the country," Virendra Bhandarkar, assistant director, west zone, Sports Authority of India, told IANS.

On the issue of supplements and the sports analysis software, he said the players would get them at the earliest. "The delay has taken place because of the agency supplying the supplements."

The 21-member squad is keeping its morale up unmindful of the lack of proper inputs.

Ranked 73 in the world, India received a wild card as hosts and they have in their pool powerful rugby nations Wales, Tonga and South Africa. World's number one team New Zealand is also a Commonwealth nation.

"Playing in the Games will be a fantastic experience. To compete against the top teams in the world will give us great exposure. We have nothing to lose and we will go out there and give our hundred percent," said Nasser Hussain, captain of the team.

As part of the preparation, the team will be heading to Istanbul for a rugby 7s tournament in August and then to Shanghai for another tournament in September.


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