In a first of its kind initiative in the country, the government on Friday announced the setting up of two Centres of Excellence dedicated to football and swimming in the national capital to raise the standard of the two sports to international level.
Sports minister Ajay Maken told reporters in his customary monthly press conference that the two Centres of Excellence will be set up at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Talkatora Swimming Pool Complex which will be equipped with residential and other state-of-the-art facilities.
"We have 12 Centres of Excellence in the country with all of them having multi-sport facilities. But we have decided to set up a a COE each for football and swimming at JN Stadium and Talkatora Swimming Pool Complex," Maken said while presenting a detailed plan on how to use the infrastructure put in place in the capital for the Commonwealth Games.
"They will also be equipped with residential facilities and state-of-art facilities for elite athletes. These two COEs should have more than 100 trainees each. We are working out the details with the two national federations," he said.
"The JN stadium will be developed as 'hub' of football and athletics. The football pitch inside the 400m track will be main training arena and even I-League matches for Delhi-based Indian Arrows can be played there," he said.
"The Lawn Bowl facility adjacent to the JN Stadium which can cater to 200-odd spectators can be used for football training purposes. Besides, the other facilities at the JN Complex used during the CWG will be used for training of weightlifting and volleyball," he added.
Maken said this is in addition to football being made a major discipline in the other 12 Centres of Excellence.
"Wherever the area inside any 400m tack at various SAI Centres and COEs can used as football pitches, we will do that," he said.
Maken also announced a legacy utilization plan of the CWG infrastructure in the capital with the aim of putting the newly constructed/renovated stadia to optimum use. He also unveiled a 'Come and Play' Scheme which envisages opening up of the SAI stadia in the city for use by school children, students, sportsperson and common people mainly on payment basis.
A committee comprising PT Usha, Bhaichung Bhutia, MC Mary Kom, Dilip Tirkey and senior sports journalist K Dutta along with the Sports Secretary had prepared a blue print of this legacy utilization.