Finally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fulfilled its 2007 election promise of giving Punjab something to match the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala. But in that too, the Parkash Singh Badal government has played area politics.
It seems that for the ruling family of the Badals, their native village in Muktsar district is the entire Punjab. Of the 216 seats allocated under Punjab Institute of Sports’ upcoming Centre of Excellences (COE) scheme where potential medal winners will get training facilities, foreign coaches, and the services of physiotherapists, 100 have gone to just one village: Badal.
In contrast, the Jalandhar COE gets only 46 seats, Patiala 20, and Ludhiana 50. In total there will be 11 disciplines. The running cost of the four COEs, excluding the cost of building four hostels, is `10 crore, of which `4.5 crore has been sanctioned for Badal village alone, and only `5.5 crore for the rest of the state.
Already, the CM’s village has a Sports Authority of India Training Centre (STC) for shooting, volleyball, athletics and hockey. Barring a few shooters, it has hardly churned out any big player. Even with a least preferred location and the maximum dropout rate, it gets the lion’s share of funds and new schemes. The COE at Badal will have shooting, hockey, athletics, volleyball and archery facilities.
“Badal gets the exclusive COE for girls with 100 seats because of its existing sports infrastructure and several academic institutes for girls,” said Punjab sports director Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, who is also director general of the Punjab Institute of Sports (PIS), adding: “We’ll open centre at other places gradually, and upgrade these to 1,000 seats.”