|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, December 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
National Games at what cost
boon for skaters
National Games at what cost
One more national extravaganza in the name of sport is over. Praise for a job well done stretching to a promise from the Prime Minister himself to consider Hyderabad as a possible host city for an Olympic Games if ever allotted to India should make Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister very happy. Indians always think big, almost every time impossibly big. And nothing can be bigger than an Olympic Games.
A huge amount of money has been spent in making the National Games in Hyderabad a major success. The amount varies from Rs 155 crore to anything over Rs 200 crore. On the eve of the Games one national newspaper put the amount at a staggering Rs 350 crore and even wondered how a state which had no money for drought could spend so much for the National Games!
The National Games at Hyderabad was the fifth in a series of National mega events in the last decade or so. Pune, Bangalore, Imphal, Punjab and now Hyderabad. The next on line is Assam. According to all accounts the Hyderabad edition was the most impressive. That always happens with each city wanting to do better than the previous one. One sincerely hopes Assam can match Hyderabad in the spread of money and glamour. It is a poor state and cannot hope to collect so much funds unless of course the Centre steps in to help.
The National Games are over. What next? This has been the question asked after the conclusion of each of the earlier Games. The answers have yet to be given. Each of the centres hosting the Games earlier spent crores of rupees in building modern infrastructure and upgrading the existing ones. With rare exceptions all the facilities have remained unused, or if used, used very rarely. The equipment, bought at great cost, has been left unattended, of if reports are true, to rot. Infrastructure built for a multi-discipline Games can never really be effectively used unless another venture of the same magnitude is held frequently. No one has really paid much thought on this subject.
Will Hyderabad, dreaming as seems to be, of staging an Olympic Games, do better? It might, in the hope of an Olympic Games being successfully bid by India. That is the only way Hyderabad can prove different from the earlier centres which had hosted the National Games. There is no other way to sustain the interest created by the National Games. Sustained they must be if Hyderabad has to keep its identity as a city which was once a major sports centre.
The only solution now is to stop the spread of the National Games to beyond Assam and then rotate the Games to the existing centres. This is one way of ensuring that the infrastructure built specially for the National Games remain in use. At the same the Indian Olympic Association in association with the various centres of National Games should set up a special administrative unit to look after the various playing fields, equipment and other accessories made specially for the Games. This is the only to ensure that the grounds and equipment do not rot because of disuse. India is too poor a country to allow such wasteful luxury.
Chennai spent a considerable amount of money while hosting the SAAF Games in 1995. One wonders how much of the infrastructure is in use at the moment. And Delhi takes the cake. The Indraprastha Indoor Stadium, the Talkatora Swimming Complex and even the Nehru Stadium built for the Asian Games of 1982 now appear to have been placed on the tourist menu, of the ancient monuments and relics to be visited while in Delhi. These fine stadiums are rarely in use these days.
And add to that the extra work done for
the still-to-come-true-dream, the Afro-Asian Games, last year. Can you
imagine Delhi has three hockey grounds with Astro-Turf, and of these
only the Shivaji Stadium is used, and that too quite sparingly. Of the
other two at the National Stadium (Dhyan Chand Stadium now), the birds
have a great time pulling out the synthetic grass for decorating their
nests. What luxury, what waste!
In spite of the fact that Indian cricketers won two one-day titles during the course of the year, the NatWest Trophy in England and the ICC Champions Trophy jointly with hosts Sri Lanka, off-the-ground issues continued to grip Indian cricket for major parts of the year. And the year ended on a miserable note for Indian cricket as they were handed out a 2-0 drubbing in a two-Test series by New Zealand (this time on designer pitches which suited the fast bowlers of the hosts the best), wiping out all hopes of Indian captain Saurav Ganguly of recording a series win outside Asia for the first time under his leadership.
The one-day victories in England and Sri Lanka raised hopes that India would be able to put up a formidable challenge in next year’s World Cup, but the battering in New Zealand (may be in a different version of the game) exposed the drawbacks in the Indian squad. May be the deficiencies can be ironed out prior to the World Cup, but now it cannot be said that the Indians would be among the front-runners for the title hunt in the World Cup to be played in South Africa in February-March next year. And mind you the Indian team has been placed in a tough pool in which every game will be crucial.
The terms of the International Cricket Council (ICC) which bars players of all teams from endorsing a product that clashes with those of official sponsors of the World Cup and other tournaments conducted by it dominated the mind of Indian cricketers, mostly the seniors, for a major part of the year. This term, according to all experts, will hit Indian players the most. Also, many questioned the wisdom of the international body of curtailing the off-the-ground earning capacity of the players. The ICC also allowed the official sponsors of its tournaments to use the images of the players for six months after the conclusion of the tournament. This clause has been opposed vehemently by the Indian players. And this clause will run right up to 2007!
In fact, this clause nearly saw India fielding a second-string team in the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka till some sort of a ‘‘working agreement’’ was worked out for the team members by the Indian board and the ICC. But this issue is yet to be resolved fully and how it affects the Indian team is to be seen.
One major occasion of the year was Kapil Dev being named Wisden cricketer of the century. Kapil, who was named in the match-fixing controversy in 2000 but was given a clean chit by the Indian investigators said the award had redeemed his image. And as the year came to a close Wisden picked Sachin Tendulkar as the second greatest batsman in both Test and one-day cricket. The legendary Don Bradman was adjudged best in Test cricket while West Indian master blaster Vivian Richards headed the list of one-day cricketers.
There was a change of guard in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya taking over as president and then straightaway getting embroiled in the controversy with the ICC, a body he once headed. Also, a new team of selectors took over but their impact on national cricket is yet to be felt. The new BCCI team immediately passed orders that all centres must prepare sporting strips for all first class matches and also invited a foreign expert to advise the ground staff how to prepare ‘‘sporting pitches’’. However, the result of this exercise is yet to be felt. The BCCI is also yet to act on a proposal given by the players themselves where it has been suggested that payment to the players be made on a graded system.
Also, finally this year saw the
National Cricket Championship for the Ranji Trophy being played under a
new format which will allow the top teams of the country to play tougher
matches, a demand which had been heard for quite some time. But it took
the BCCI a number of years before finally implementing it.
No other individual has contributed more for the progress and prosperity of Indian professional golf than Pawan Munjal. As chairman of the Asian PGA Tour Board of Directors, he is expected to provide further boost to Indian golf and Indian professionals.
Munjal, a golf addict and genuine promoter of sports, believes more in action than talking. He is shot but his ideas are lofty and planning meticulous. Not for nothing he has become the chief of the prestigious Asian body for a term of two years.
The first Indian to head the all-important Asian body, Munjal has been president of the Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI). "We have taken off and we have to make allout endeavour to secure a larger piece of cake in the affairs of international golf" said Munjal, adding: "We have potential in Asia".
According to Munjal, more Asian pros should be seen playing in international circuit outside Asia. With Munjal at the helm, may be some more Indian pros will be able to get sponsorship.
While Munjal heads the 13-member body, Gaurav Ghei has been nominated to the tour policy committee of the Asian PGA Tour. The board of directors are said to have planned several innovations to help Asian golf gain further popularity and fresh look-in at three important circuits — European, American and Japanese.
The way Asian golfers, particularly Indians, have taken to golf and making firm strides, it is quite likely that players from this neglected region will rub shoulders with the very best in the world. After all Vijay Singh (Fiji) is making waves in the USA. Is he not?
Jyoti Randhawa’s looks are deceptive. Beneath his serene disposition, he possesses nerves of steel. He epitomises a breed that is not easily found on Indian sporting arenas. Not for nothing he has risen to the stature of being the top golfer in Asia today.
Randhawa’s rise, in a way, has been meteoric. For his success, he gives credit to his father, who has instilled in him an army discipline being a Brigadier once. Having secured the order of merit in Asian PGA, he is now determined to display his potential beyond this region. Those, who know him and his style of playing golf, feel he will scale new heights. He has talent and also temperament.
Ashok Kumar has come of age. He gave evidence of his enormous talent as he upstaged Vijay Kumar to win the NOIDA Open. He deserved to win the competition. He is now planning to participate in the Asian qualifying school early next.
Ashok’s rise is very creditable. His early youth days were tough and rough. When he was about six, he used to pick construction rubble as a casual labour to make his living. He then worked as a caddy at the Air Force course. But his luck turned worse. He was accused of stealing money and was sacked. However he kept working on his golf and now is one of the most talented pros in the country. Those who have seen him play feel that he will make bigger waves than some other caddy-turned-pros.
Vijay Kumar, an experienced Indian pro, feels that Ashok Kumar has a very strong mind and also very calm nerves. He predicts far greater success to him in pro career than many others. When he turned pro last year, many thought he was too young. But he proved his critics wrong.
boon for skaters
The availability of inexpensive Chinese skates, ice-hockey sticks and other wintersport gear has come as boon for the ice-skating enthusiasts who have been finding it difficult to pursue the fascinating sport for want of necessary equipment. While the equipment is not manufactured in the country, the one available from Japan, Canada and European countries was very expensive and thus beyond the reach of the sportspersons. For instance a pair of ice skates from these countries costs Rs 6000 to Rs 7000. Similarly, the cost of ice hockey sticks ranged between Rs 3500 to Rs 4500 and that of protective gear about Rs 10,000. The entire sports gear costs around Rs 22,000 which the average sports enthusiast could not afford.
However, the entry of Chinese sports gear has changed the situation. A Chinese pair of ice-skates is available for just Rs 2500 and ice hockey sticks for Rs 1200 to Rs 4000, depending on the quality. The protective gear costs about Rs 2000. The total cost of the Chinese-made winter sport gear comes to just around Rs 10,000.