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Miffed by Boxing Federation, India's most successful high performance director quits

The high performance director for Indian women’s boxers Rafaelle Bergamasco is disappointed by the treatment of Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and has decided not to renew his contract.

Lovlina Borgohain with Bergamasco (Source: BFI)

Lovlina Borgohain with Bergamasco (Source: BFI)


The Bridge Desk

Published: 30 Sep 2021 4:48 AM GMT

The high performance director for Indian women's boxers Rafaelle Bergamasco, who played a crucial role behind Lovlina Borgohain's bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, is disappointed by the treatment meted to him by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and has decided not to renew his contract after a fallout.

On Wednesday night, Bergamasco left for his home in Italy after informing the BFI and Sports Authority of India (SAI) that he did not want to continue. He was hoping to get a renewed long-time contract which ended this month, following the success of Lovlina. However, BFI had offered him just a two-month extension after a long delay.
Bergamasco in his letter to SAI said, "I would have loved to continue my work for another Olympic cycle but I was not happy to be forced to accept the 2 months extension offered by BFI and SAI jointly as a solution to push away the present time. I am grateful to SAI and BFI for the opportunity provided for past four years and practically all of us lived like a family here in India working together for our common goals."
In an interview with Hindustan Times, BFI secretary general Hemanta Kalita said, "There was no delay in his contract. We have to follow a process. We had written to SAI for a three-month extension for the boxing coaches. He does not want to continue and was looking for a contract till the Paris 2024 Olympics. That is his choice. We are soon going to come out with an advertisement for the post."
Bergamasco spent three weeks at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi trying to reach out to the BFI but with no response. He said he also read reports that BFI was looking for a new coach.
According to the HT report, he had asked BFI about his contract and was told to attend a coach's workshop in Bhopal. BFI then told him they will get back. "They wrote to SAI that Rafaelle doesn't not want to go to Bhopal," Bergamasco said. "I told SAI I never said that. I said I don't have a contract.
"If you don't want me, please tell me, I will go, I have no problem," Bergamasco added. "But why you are not responding? You don't speak to me for 20 days. This is the respect you give me. I did not want to end it like this."

The 50-year-old, who joined in 2017, told PTI that he is exhausted and stressed after getting no response from the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
"I will go home now. I will wait for the BFI to respond to me in the next two weeks on my status before the women's national championship happens in mid-October. I am very stressed and in a bad situation," he said. "If they call me, I will come back on October 15 before the Nationals and if they don't, then I will decide what to do next. I will send an e-mail like I have been doing. I have no bitterness, I just want some communication."
The BFI had sought a three-month extension for Bergamasco and his men's team counterpart Santiago Nieva. However, the Italian is not keen on a short-term renewal of his contract. The BFI has said that a decision on the further extension would be taken based on the performances in the upcoming world championships for men (in October) and women (in December). Bergamasco would be leaving for his home base Assisi on Thursday. He said only the Sports Authority of India (SAI) got in touch with him after he sent out several e-mails seeking clarity over his status.
Since Bergamasco's arrival, India won five gold and two bronze medals at the 2017 youth world meet. Then they won four medals, including a bronze by Borgohain at the 2018 world championships. At the 2019 World Championships, India won four medals again, including a silver. For the first time, India fielded four women boxers at the Tokyo Olympics out of the 5 possible categories, making it the most successful campaign under Bergamasco. It clearly makes him the most successful coach of Indian women boxing.

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