Step motherly treatment for hockey, football at Gymkhana

Step motherly treatment for hockey, football at Gymkhana

Anyone passing through Gymkhana Ground between 6 am and 7.45 am or from 4:45 pm to 6.30 pm any of these days will be treated to a pleasantly exciting...

Anyone passing through Gymkhana Ground between 6 am and 7.45 am or from 4:45 pm to 6.30 pm any of these days will be treated to a pleasantly exciting scene where young boys and girls will be at their enthusiastic best playing a sport of their choice. This scene is replicated in almost the grounds in the city. After all, the month of May is that time of the year when students can shun academic books and hit the nearest playground.

Alas, on entering Gymkhana Ground, the jubilation makes way for a loathsome emotion, particularly those keen on watching youngsters honing their skills in hockey and football. The picture is outright disgusting and makes an audacious mockery of the government’s tall claims of going all out to usher in a vibrant sports culture whereupon Hyderabad will earn the envious tag of being the national sports capital!

Every year to cash in on the holiday season, the Sports Authority and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) separately conduct camps offering coaching in a plethora of disciplines across various grounds and stadiums in the twin cities and Ranga Reddy district. This year, though, there has been a delay because of the revised annual examination schedule for schools and junior colleges.

Despite huge demand for football and hockey camps,  there has been no patronage from the authorities. Photo: Saleem

Gymkhana Ground and Victory Play Ground (VPG) are the nerve-centres because they offer a multitude of disciplines in close proximity to one another. Unfortunately, one gets this gut feeling that neither the State Government nor the Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS) has any plans to give boost to the two common man’s disciplines (in terms of affordability) even as it does not hesitate to dole out megabucks to those elitist sportspersons into tennis (Sania Mirza was given Rs one crore after being named as the State’s Brand Ambassador) and badminton (Saina Nehwal was ‘gifted’ an additional Rs 20 lakh after her sob story).

Just consider this-this year’s summer camp has attracted 200 youngsters with dreams of making it big in football while the response to hockey is close to 100. These figures are extremely encouraging because neither has any sponsors worth the name. Even more intriguing is that despite claims and counter-claims, neither has a State Association that enjoys governmental recognition, thanks to the infighting and groupism that have destroyed both disciplines.

Recruitment under the sports quota also remains a mirage. SATS can take the pretext of the two being cold-shouldered by even the recently revamped Olympic Association. But then why play spoilsport and curb the aspirations of hundreds of youngsters wonders a veteran coach. Indeed, why this stepmotherly attitude for hockey and football whereas those pursuing their passion for basketball, boxing, volleyball and tennis are getting a better patronage.

This gains credence from the fact that they get their infrastructural support by way of equipment in right earnest. In contrast, the 200 young footballers, who are reporting bang on time, have to rest content with just three balls, which have to last for the entire camp. The District Sports Authority of Hyderabad which is the administrative head for the camp at Gymkhana, is clueless and hard-pressed for answers. Frequent requisitions for more balls have fallen on deaf ears, laments an official.

It reminds one of the selection trials that were held a couple of months back to pick the Santosh Trophy team where they had to do the kicking around and ‘adjust’ with one ball! Hockey has a more sorrowful tale. With a fairly ‘sufficient’ number of balls and 50 sticks quite generously given, the trainees make use of them by coming over for one session in a day to make economic sense of the enrollment.

Those with their own sticks manage to avail of the coaching twice over. However, it is the ground that is regretfully atrocious and makes for a health hazard to the youngsters, who spend the initial few minutes of the schedule to throw out pebbles and stones. A couple of years back, the then government allocated funds to refurbish the disproportionate playing surface that had more of stones and less of mud.

The work remains incomplete with the contractor allocated the renovation job deciding to stay away from further fine-tuning. His reasons are quite understandable. The amount sanctioned for the project was estimated at the cost price prevailing then. Today, with the increase in prices and also labour charges, the pleas by the contractor for enhancing the budget has hit a dead-end.

Meanwhile, if one gets a feeling that the training comes free of cost then he better change the opinion. Each trainee has to pay the fee subject to the discipline he has opted for. For boxing it is Rs 100; volleyball Rs 300; tennis Rs 700; basketball Rs 600 while the hockey ‘players’ pay Rs 150 whereas the footballers have to shell down Rs 300 for not even getting to hold on to the ball for a couple of minutes at a stretch. This is outright discrimination that has to be rectified sooner than later. Harping on an orchestrated ‘no budget’ theme smacks of official highhandedness and puts the self-styled sports 'promoters' in a poor light.

By:Sridhar K Penna

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