Banking on the success of its junior program that was completely overseen by two former internationals, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) now wants to try and end its dependency on foreign coaches and create a system to encourage more Indian players to take up the role.

“We have taken a conscious decision to ween away from foreign coaches and promote more local talent. The reason is very simple: at the end of the day we have to be self reliant,” said NRAI president Raninder Singh at a press conference convened to announce the strategic partnership between the federation and JSW group till the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“We tried this strategy with the juniors who have all Indian coaches. And we were number one in the world at the World Championships in 2018. If you can be number one in the world in juniors, why can’t we be number one in the seniors? I have nothing against foreign coaches — they are great coaches, some of them are the finest in the world. But at the end of the day, we have to look to our own,” he said, adding the plan is to have Indian coaches in most positions by the end of Tokyo Olympics with just one or two foreign experts.

Also read: How the junior program has paid rich dividends

Raninder said one of the major hindrance in implementing this policy are the rules of Sports Authority of India. SAI does not pay an Indian coach remuneration above a certain amount and felt that the partnership with JSW could help bridge that gap.

“Our need (to have this strategic partnership) was to bridge the gap. We can’t have a coach of the calibre of Jaspal Rana being paid a pittance every month, should we stick to government norms. The government can’t help with these things because they have norms. They cannot violate those norms themselves. So it is for us to find strategic partnerships to bridge the gap,” he added.

The JSW Group, which according to Raninder would pay above one crore rupees per year to the NRAI, will provide financial assistance to hire coaches, support staff and the shooters can also use the sports science facilities in the Inspire Institute of Sport in Vijayanagar for training and rehabilitation.

The NRAI president insisted that the partnership was just one step towards making the federation financially self-sufficient and ending the dependency on the government for funds. “We are still a far way away,” he admitted.

Raninder, however, clarified that the partnership would in no way hamper the relationship of top players with the NGOs like Olympic Gold Quest and GoSports Foundation, which are supporting individual players. “I welcome every support that is coming to the shooters. There is no conflict here. The strategic partnership is with the NRAI and they are supporting individual players,” he added.

Still trying for 2022 CWG inclusion

Raninder, who recently got elected as the ISSF vice president, insisted that the NRAI and even the world body is still pushing for shooting to be included into 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“The ISSF has offered to bear the costs of holding the event, official costs and other expenses. All they will have to take care of transportation. We are hopeful that they (CWG organisers) will reconsider their decision,” said Raninder.

The Commonwealth Games Federation has decided to exclude shooting from the 2022 Games, citing logistical issues.

Though an optional sport, shooting has been part of every Commonwealth Games since 1974 and most of India’s medals at the Games comes from the shooting range.

“We have done everything to convince the organising committee. We are hopeful that they will take the right decision,” he added.