for the willage
Ryders of the storm
leave the ‘House that Ruth built’
IN THE NEWS
It’s a story of the people winning against official apathy. Villagers from Mehmasinghwala in Ludhiana district built their own football stadium after the authorities failed to provide one, writes Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Driving through a lush green tree cover along the driveway from the entry gate of Mehmasinghwala village in Ludhiana district, a visitor is struck with the awesome sight of fish and ducks in a pond opposite the entry to a football stadium. As one enters the stadium, the flowing thick green cover offers a beautiful view of the football field. Cleanliness of the ground as well as the entire spectator stand is a remarkable feature as the architecture is done keeping in mind the basic necessities.
The Sant Baba Nasket Ji Football Stadium is a fine exhibition of human spirit carving a beauty out of a visible wasteland. A dry patch of low-lying wasteland has come up as a beautiful centre of physical activity. Jaswant Singh Grewal, a UK-based NRI who is a managing director of ‘Domino’s Pizza’, floated the idea of doing ‘something’ for his village in 2000 and he was joined in by Joginder Singh Grewal, the village sarpanch. It is worth mentioning that Jaswant Singh represented the team of the United Kingdom in the marathon even during 1984 Olympics in USA. "When for two years, the file did not move enough in the government quarters for erection of a stadium, we decided to go ahead with the project. And we did it", said Jaswant Singh.
The final of the football tournament on February 12, every year, is one of the most keenly awaited events in the entire area. A large number of teams from the adjoining areas, in particular, participate actively and the number of participating teams is going up each year, as the figures reveal. The winning team gets Rs 16,000 while the second and third place winners get a price of Rs 12,000 and Rs 10,000, respectively.
The practice sessions continue throughout the year under the coaching of Mohammad Akbar, a full time coach from Malerkotla. Daljit Singh, a footballer, points out that "I don’t remember the names, but a number of boys practicing here have made it to top teams in the country".
Joginder Singh Grewal said "we realised that it was very difficult to get the government clearance for any major project. We formed a core committee consisting me, Gurmeet Singh, Himmat Singh, Jagpal Singh and Jaswant Singh. A portion of the village community land measuring nine acres approximately was sidelined for the project. We contacted the neighbouring villages for help in filling up the low-lying area. Farmers came from adjoining villages of Narangwal, Lohgarh, Gujjarwal, Raipur and Jatauli with as many as 40 tractors and within three days we were able to raise height of the land portion by about 12 feet. The stadium work, which started in beginning of 2002 was completed in middle of 2004.
The total cost of the stadium has worked out close to Rs 70 lakh, all of which has been gathered with voluntary donations from good samaritans. "Besides very minor contributions from villagers, the chunk of donations has come from NRIs. I always argued on the point that incase someone wanted to do something for his motherland he should first contribute towards bulking up the weak infrastructure here", Jaswant Singh says. Interestingly, the list of over 250 donors also includes the name of a contributor from Pakistan.
Jaswant Singh said "We have kept the football tournament, a purely sports centric activity". He was referring to fairs in the neighbouring villages, which added the colour of singers, dancers, jugglers and other cultural activity to the routine sports fairs. "We don’t want crowd in numbers. We want only cream of the crowd to make the stadium a sought after venue", Jaswant Singh adds.
As is evident from the
sprawling thick green cover on the football field, the groundsmen are
expected to lay a special emphasis on quality of the ground, which
includes regular watering and sprucing. The name about quality of the
venue is spreading largely through word and mouth and the stadium is
becoming a sought after venue for coaching by different teams. The
office walls display letters of appreciation from different academies
including Hindustan Football Academy, which also had foreign players in
the team. Certain teams from the Indian Army also practiced at the spot.
Despite his reputation for planning his golf with perfection, Nick Faldo was outflanked by Paul Azinger, whose secret plan to build team unity paid off spectacularly. The vanquished Europe captain may have been merely referring to his decision not to do any more Ryder Cup press or he may have been declaring his long association with the biennial match to be over.
A cruel, more alert observer surveying the wreckage of what was, statistically, the worst Europe performance in 27 years might well have been minded to ask for this in writing, although there would have been little point. When Faldo arrived at Heathrow last night and saw the devastation on the news stands he would have been all too pleased to be making a quite bizarre turnaround and immediately heading back to his home in America. Faldo will not be seen in Britain for a while and after the short and bitter inquest thoughts will turn to the identity of the Europe captain for Newport, 2010.
After the 161/2-111/2 victory Azinger teased British viewers by telling Sky that he had a "plan I won’t yet share", but within an hour he was letting forth. "About four or five years ago, I watched a documentary," Azinger said, "and I’ve had this idea ever since that if I was the captain how I would try to approach the team. We put four guys together in practice rounds and they played together every day, and they were the four guys that stayed together the whole week and they were never going to come out of their little group. That’s the way I did it." In other words, Azinger found the missing unity in creating divisions. Well, it was always going to take something wacky to inspire this bunch of misfits.
It later emerged that it was a military documentary showing the old SAS tactic of forming "clusters". Azinger, who has been devouring psychology books for two years, split his 12 hungry men into three groups and assigned an assistant captain to look after them as they ate, practised and laughed together. Azinger then sat back and let the bonding ritual take its course.
I never saw Anthony Kim hit one shot in practice until the 18th hole on Thursday," Azinger said, "I relied on Ray Floyd. It’s been two years with my hands on the wheel and on Friday, I had to let go. I smashed my foot to the floor, took my hands off the wheel and turned my head. I didn’t know what was going to happen, whether I was going to crash into a tree. I had to trust my guys and they came through for me."
leave the ‘House that Ruth built’
NEW Yorkers were readying themselves for a frenzy of mourning and nostalgia as fans old and young poured into Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to watch the game against the Baltimore Orioles, the last ever in a hallowed edifice they like to call the "House that Ruth built".
After 85 years of drawing baseball fans to worship, Yankee Stadium will be no more. The city and indeed the country will bid a final farewell to a venue that has hosted 100 World Series games, three Papal masses, numerous rock concerts, football games and Celtic once played on its turf and the occasional championship boxing bout too.
Waiting just across the road, however, is a new Yankee Stadium that, once inaugurated next spring, may make followers of the game grateful for the passing of the old structure, with its vertiginous stands, chilly ramps and corridors and crumbling concrete.
The team’s new home has been built for $1.6billion (`A3870m), the most expensive sports venue ever in America, will feature 60 luxury boxes, a Martini bar, several lounges and restaurants as well as vastly improved parking.
But what it won’t have, of course, are the memories. The old stadium always belonged first to the biggest baseball superstar of them all, Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth). It was on the foundations of his play and the repeated home runs that the original stadium was built in 1923 by the then Yankee’s owner Jacob Ruppert.
And it was on the stadium’s hallowed ground in 1948 that Ruth was laid in state after his death from cancer to allow more than 100,000 fans to pay their last respects.
When Lou Gehrig addressed fans in mid-play just days after being diagnosed with a degenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, that would eventually bear his name. "For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got," he said. "Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
It was at Yankee Stadium in 1946 that Joe Louis retained his world heavyweight boxing title against Billy Conn and where eight years before, Louis knocked out Max Schmeling of Germany in just 124 seconds. Soon, work will begin to raze it, but not before just about everything that can be removed - seats, signs, changing room lockers - has been sold off, one by one, as memorabilia to fans.
WORLD number one Rafael Nadal blitzed hapless Andy Roddick inside a Madrid bullring to lead Spain into a Davis Cup final showdown against Argentina. Spain, the champions in 2000 and 2004, saw off defending champions USA 4-1 while Argentina, who have never lifted the trophy, needed teenager Juan Martin del Potro to deliver them a gripping 3-2 win over Russia in Buenos Aires.Nadal, who has already picked up the Wimbledon, French Open and Olympic titles this year, cruised to a 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 victory over Roddick to hand Spain an unassailable lead in the 22,000-capacity Las Ventas bullring. — AFP
ENGLISH Premier League giant Arsenal FC’s future looks to be in safe hands after a largely teenaged side produced a sparkling display to thrash Championship (second division) Sheffield United 6-0 in the third round of the League Cup.
Nineteen-year-old Carlos Vela scored a hat-trick, while 16-year-old Jack Wilshere (Above) ran the midfield.
Aside from 23-year-old goalkeper Lukasz Fabianksi, the team had an average age of not much over 18 — Reuters