As the election season approaches and new applicants prepare to contest for the various posts of CSA and the current office holders reach the end of their tenure, DoJMA talked to Aashutosh Joshi about his experience as Sports Secretary of BITS Goa, the additional challenges he faced as the first holder of this position in BITS Goa, and how he went about to fulfill the promises he made in his agenda. Being a sportsman himself might have given him a visible advantage while carrying out his duties. Even so, there are promises that remain unfulfilled due to budget constraints and some which were delayed due to other pressing commitments of the administration. Aashutosh, however, is confident that most of them will be achieved before the end of his tenure and that he has laid sufficient groundwork for his successors to accomplish the remaining goals.
Read on the interview for a comprehensive discussion with the Sports Secretary about his agenda, and the progress he made during his tenure.
DoJMA: How was your experience as the first Sports Secretary of BITS Goa?
Aashutosh: It was really good. Since this is the first time we’re having this post, so I had to ask [BITS] Hyderabad’s Sports Secretary and [BITS] Pilani’s Sports Secretary about the responsibilities of this post holder. He [Hyderabad’s sports secretary] said that there’s a whole sports council with secretaries for each individual sport in Hyderabad and their head is the Sports Secretary. But, this is the first time the post has been introduced, here, and there is only one secretary. I asked them about the work I would have to do. But the post has been introduced long back in their campuses and has evolved in the last six years. So, I thought I had the freedom to define the post as my own, as it was not clearly defined and it can evolve later when the new sports secretaries take charge. Initially, the sports teams put their trust in me and elected me. But earning their trust was different. And in the first two months, I had to earn their trust and make sure that proper communication was established. I had a lot of fun doing this work. It changed me as a person.
DoJMA: What were the major challenges that you faced while completing all the promises in your agenda and how did you overcome them?
Aashutosh: We already have had many Presidents, many Vice Presidents, many General Secretaries, and many Treasurers, but I am the first Sports Secretary. So, from the point of view of the administration, a new person is approaching them to get some work done and trusting me right away might have been quite difficult for them. At the start, I used to feel that I am trying more than the other people to convince the administration [of something] or to get a job done. But later, my post was recognized and after that, this became quite easy. This was the biggest challenge that I faced.
DoJMA: But didn’t you interact with them while doing the groundwork for this position?
Aashutosh: Yes, I did. But the candidate who is running for election interacting and, the person who has actually been elected interacting, are two different things. When I was doing my groundwork, I mainly interacted with all the sports captains and the SAC in-charge, because I am responsible for everything that happens in the SAC. I have developed a friendly relationship with Chandu Lamani Sir, with whom I was already familiar before being elected. But gaining the trust of the Associate Dean, the Chief Warden, took me a little more time.
DoJMA: You had promised that you’d be the person responsible for makeups, bona fide certificates, and reimbursements. I heard from most of the teams that you arranged for that. How did you go about it?
Aashutosh: In the case of sports teams, taking a bona fide [certificate] is different. When we apply for bona fides individually, we just get one certificate on one page. But when we go out for tournaments, there is a contingent of 90-100 people. So if each person applies for a certificate individually, then SWD, which issues the bona fide certificates, will come under a lot of pressure. When I went to them to address this, they told me that I should make a list of all participating sports teams, and the list should containing names of students who are participating, their hostels, their room numbers, and ID numbers along with whatever other information is needed. So that list acts as a bona fide. I have arranged this for every tournament, and it is recognized in all the colleges.
DoJMA: One of the major points that were a part of your agenda and hasn’t taken place as of now is about the floodlights in the football field. Can you shed some light on why this couldn’t be done?
Aashutosh: Yes, I will talk about that. The thing is, initially, when I had talked to Angshuman sir about the floodlights and told him that I wanted to install floodlights in the football field if not for regular use, then at least for use during Spree. At that point in time, he told me that it’s a good point and that I should proceed with that. But then, our institute took up the construction of new basketball courts, whose budget was around ₹30 lakhs. Since they have already invested a big amount, they cannot afford to install floodlights with this year’s budget. I asked Sir if this could be accommodated in next year’s budget and he was affirmative. If it wasn’t for the basketball courts, I might have been able to bring the floodlights to the football field.
DoJMA: Another thing that you mentioned in your agenda was monthly interactions with the captains of the teams of different sports. How was that carried out?
Aashutosh: The monthly interactions weren’t strictly face-to-face interactions, due to the hectic and conflicting class schedules of students. We created a WhatsApp ‘Sports CoCo’ group. We met for discussing the correct procedure to file for reimbursements. If a problem specific to any particular team arose, for example, if the Frisbee team had some issue, they directly messaged me. In the course of my tenure, what I realized that instead of face-to-face meetings, I should ask them about their difficulties, after a couple of weeks. And I used to do that. For example, if any team needed any equipment from SAC, they would get it from the SAC budget. This time, I got them nearly twice the equipment they got last year.
DoJMA: For most of the sports, you’ve mentioned maintenance of one sort or the other as the major point in your agenda. How far do you think you’ve accomplished that?
Aashutosh: Since the post was introduced for the first time, I thought that instead of going for something big, something massive, I should start from the basics. Why was this post made? Because all the previous year’s sports captains went to the CSA and told them that their very basic requirements were not being fulfilled. When I stood for the election, I told them that I’ll ensure proper maintenance. If, for example, the badminton court itself is slippery, there would be a lot of injuries. My ankle was almost twisted while playing. So that was the problem and being a sports player, I knew that I had to start from the basics. That’s why I included maintenance as a point on the agenda.
At the start of this academic year itself, the badminton court was repolished. We placed a mop inside the badminton court so that if the staff forgets to mop it, we[team players] can mop the floor after our practice gets over, or when the court gets slippery. Chandu sir is really enthusiastic about cricket, so the cricket field is cleaned almost regularly. The rings of the older basketball courts were replaced during last semester. The new basketball courts have tilted rings and so matches cannot be held there and they couldn’t be fixed due to Spree. But they would probably be fixed before my tenure ends.
DoJMA: You also mentioned the ventilation problem in squash and table tennis. When would the installation be done and what took so long in getting the fans ordered and installed?
Aashutosh: Two fans were ordered and they have arrived. For installation, [Chandu] Sir had called the technicians and the problem of ventilation would be solved.
The issue of installation of fans wasn’t a major one and due to the urgency of budget discussions for Spree and ordering of the equipment for the fest resulted in the delay. I continuously reminded Sir about the fans and since they have arrived now, they will be installed soon.
DoJMA: What has been done about the fencing of the volleyball court and the tennis court?
Aashutosh: The tennis court has temporary fencing because the tennis players raised the issue that balls get hit out of the court and get lost.
In volleyball, the fencing was a major issue. The volleyball court’s issue was that it is right beside the road and there have been two to three instances where the ball hit the people passing by. The vehicles and faculty kids using that route could easily get hurt and this was a major concern. When I told the Director about this problem, it was addressed within a week and the fencing was done.
DoJMA: What were your biggest achievements and where do you think you could have performed better?
Aashutosh: There are several, actually. One of them is the fact that our tennis court is also going to being renovated. In a meeting with the Director, I raised the point for renovation because people don’t come for tennis during Spree as the court has been through a lot of wear and tear in the last semester. I was informed by the tennis captain that there have been many injuries due to the poor condition of the courts. But the renovation work can’t be started in the middle of a year. It is included in the budget made at the start of the year, outlining the major annual targets. I’ve made sure that in the next year’s budget, the renovation of the tennis court will be included.