Sports infrastructure just a pipe dream

Published Oct 8, 2014, 9:28 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 11:00 pm IST
Sports administrations apathy blamed for state’s backwardness
A view of the Kaloor stadium. (Photo: DC)
 A view of the Kaloor stadium. (Photo: DC)
KOCHI: The State Government was silent on sports as an investment opportunity in Kerala during the Emerging Kerala Summit held in 2012. The 22 sectors identified by the State ranged from tourism to infrastructure development focusing on roads, rail, power, water supply and sewage. Although the State has a rich legacy of producing internationally known sportspersons, the infrastructure and other facilities for sports remain quite backward due to the apathy of the agencies connected with sports administration. 
“Apart from the hype over one-day international cricket matches taking place once in a blue moon, the authorities concerned with sports have nolong term vision to develop facilities in the city”, says A.N. Raveendra Das, a veteran sports writer based in the city. 
Kochi has all the potential to become a hub of sports in the State in terms of access and hotel facilities, he added. The blame for the situation rests squarely with those at the helm of affairs at the Sports Council of Kerala and various other associations connected with sports, he added. 
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was envisaged to be developed as a sports complex with facilities for indoor games like basketball, badminton and multi-gym for training facilities. But all these proposals were quietly forgotten and the space around the stadium was leased out to various commercial entities. 
Kochi has also the natural advantage of becoming a venue for staging national and international water sporting events as well as a training centre for water sports. A proposal was prepared for the development of Kochi as a hub of water sports when M.Vijayakumar was the sports minister. But nothing came out of the proposal, said all those who were familiar with the development. 
A report prepared by FICCI along with YES Bank says that sports has the potential to emerge as a billion dollar industry in the country.      
“Rising disposable incomes, emergence of sport icons in society, acceptance of sports as a form of entertainment, fitness and leisure has led to the growth of the Indian Sports Industry”, the report pointed out. 
Like in many other areas, the report highlighted the importance of developing public-private-partnership for establishing world class sporting infrastructure in the country. PPP is a one-point solution, where the private sectors’ input towards technical expertise and ability to draw large investments coupled with policy support from the Government will be a key driver”, the report added. 
The Government and various associations connected with the administration of sports in the State should have the ability to see changes taking place in various sectors, said Arun Varma, a Delhi-based consultant. 
The State should have the ability to leverage its advantages for securing funds from sources such as corporate social responsibility, he added. According to Raveendra Das, even the existing facilities are getting dwarfed due to lack of vision by the authorities. 
The Maharaja’s College used to have a good stadium for football, athletics and hockey. But it was encroached upon by various agencies in the past few years, he said. The dream of Kochi to be a hub of national and international events will remain a pipe dream for many years.
Location: Kerala