India's former mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton has called his sex dossier for Indian cricketers a big mistake in his professional career. He said it was a joke which was blown out of proportion by the Indian media.
He had prepared a document for the players ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy played in South Africa. Upton revealed everything in his recently released book 'The Barefoot Coach'.
In a chapter titled ‘Ego and my greatest professional error’, Upton wrote about the controversial phase of his stint with the Indian team. “Does sex increase performance? Yes, it does. So go ahead and indulge. Okay, so that’s the popular answer, the one that everyone wants to hear. I know that if I want to have this article quoted widely, I should leave it at that," he wrote.
In his latest interview with the Outlook, Upton, who is now the head coach of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, said that he never asked players to go and have sex. He just shared the information that sex does help to boost performance. “I wasn’t telling the players to do anything. I was sharing information. And what was taken out of context in the media was the jokes that I told them; I wasn’t suggesting players do that. That was just the jokes and tongue-in-cheeks mistakes that I made. It certainly wasn’t instructions or suggestions to players. But, yes, I made the mistake, as I mentioned in the book, easily my biggest professional error,” Upton said.
"The reasons I share in the book are that I believe in honesty and, particularly, vulnerability for a leader, for a coach is very important. So, it would have been easy for me to have written everything in the book that I did well, but that wouldn’t have been real. I wanted the book to represent something that is real. As humans we all make mistakes, and for leaders to own their mistakes gives other people to own mistakes,” he added.
The thing which he didn't like about Indians is that they hide their mistakes. “In India, one of the things that happen is that when people make mistakes they work as hard as they can to hide them or cover them up. I don’t think that’s a very healthy way and it doesn’t help a team or individual move forward. So, one of the things I modeled doing in the book is: 'make a mistake and put your hand up and own it',” he says.
Talking more about the incident which had created a lot of controversies, Upton said Gary Kirsten was hurt by it.
“My family and I have been deeply hurt by the many allegations that I encouraged the Indian players to engage in sexual activity before a match. I would like to state that I have never, and I repeat, never encouraged or told the team or any player to engage in any form of sexual activity. These allegations are absolutely not true and completely against my religious and moral beliefs,” Kirsten had read from a prepared statement. “The leaked article was written by Mr. Paddy Upton and provided information for the players on the relationship between sexual activity and sports performance. I never wrote the article and read it for the first time two days ago. It has never been and never will be part of team strategy.”
Gary Kirsten, the then Indian coach was made a laughing stock in the controversy, after which Upton had apologized. The bonding between the two grew after that incident.
Did Upton also learn a lesson in trusting people after that incident because he owned up to it that it was him who had leaked it? “No, it didn’t change my trust at all. I think I like to trust people first and give them the benefit of the doubt. And if people make a mistake and they own up I think the trust even grows. I think the relationship between Gary Kirsten and me after we had navigated that real difficulty, actually grew because I was able to go to Gary and own 100 percent my error, and why I did it,” he explained.
Upton further says: “I think respect grew out of that real deep sharing and honesty and vulnerability. And very often in life mistakes happening is very human. If it’s really well and maturely handled, properly processed, you end up being stronger for having remedied that mistake and bringing that honesty towards it. That happens. People make mistakes and when you repair it well it strengthens the relationship and when you don’t repair it well it ends up breaking the trust.”
(With The Outlook Inputs)