The sports culture in the Capital is growing ever so rapidly. One can see young children playing gully cricket or engrossed in a game of badminton in their colonies; practicing karate kicks in the district parks or tackling the ball wearing fake Ronaldinho jerseys.
There are many platforms for a beginner to learn and hone his talent in the city. From endless cricket academies to a dingy dimly-lit boxing hall, there is no dearth of facilities to practice any sport. With more and more DDA Sports Complexes coming up in the city, sports infrastructure in the city simply has multiplied over the years.
Delhi has a number of cricket academies. It is no surprise that more and more inter-school tournaments are being organised to encourage children and make them realise their potential. The National Stadium is one of the oldest venues to train. It has three grounds. Each ground has two turfs and three cemented pitches.
Coaching is done under the watchful eyes of six coaches, who have 25 trainees each under them Earlier, trials were conducted every month after which kids were selected for training. But now only those children get training who are already registered with the stadium. Practice starts at 1 pm for children over seven years.
When it comes to clubs, Sonnet (Venkateshwara College), Rohtak Road Gymkhana, Madan Lal Academy and Bright club (Kalindi College) are among the more established ones. Tarik Sinha runs Sonnet, which has produced many international and first-class cricketers. Trials are conducted and only talented kids are picked for training. The club has six coaches and practice is held only on weekends from 9 am onwards. While kids have to bring their own kits, the club provides balls to them. Sonnet charges Rs. 300 as monthly fee. The DDA complexes at Rohini, Wazirpur, Pitampura, Ahok Vihar, Saket also provide coaching to youngsters. However, one needs to be a member to avail of these facilities.
If you think you have a Bhaichung Bhutia in the making and looking for training facilities, the first step would be to encourage your child to get into the school football team. If he is good, he could play during the school leagues organised by Delhi Soccer Association every year for various age categories U-10 and U-15.
If you want to start even before your child enters school, the Simla Young Club at the Central Secretariat grounds provides professional training to kids above 4 years of age with a fees of Rs 16,500 annually for 144 sessions.
Once the forms are filled up to enter the training session, an age verification test is conducted. Sports Authority of India also provides training but it is only for trained athletes.
Hockey may be the national game but there are hardly any academies in the capital to provide proper grassroots coaching to kids. Coaching is mostly in schools. Training is also provided by the Sports Authority of India, but that is at an advanced level. Another centre for hockey training is the SAI-Air-India Academy at the National Stadium, which takes in students once a year on residential basis after trials. But for that, one needs to have played the game at least at the school level, with an age and authority certificate from the school.
Of late many children have been showing interest in individual games like tennis, badminton, golf and table tennis.
Tennis has emerged as one of the most popular sports in the country, with the rise of Sania Mirza. The Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) provides training to children at the age of five and the scheme gives them a chance to learn the correct method of holding the racquet, the touch and feel of the ball and, to also have fun. DLTA has as many as 15 courts with 25 coaches who train over 500 children. Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Bal Bharti School, Pitampura and all the branches of Delhi Public School come under the DLTA scheme along with DSOI Club (exclusively for Army members).
Does your child pack those powerful punches and kicks? If yes, then the Boxing Federation of India has many affiliated units in Delhi. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Bhisham Pitamah Road) is by far the main hub for budding boxers. Here, selection trials are conducted every month to pick the best of the lot. You need to be nine years old to go through the trials and the ones who make the cut participate in the inter-district tournaments. Coaching is free of cost and the trainee is given special diet during camps, free boxing gear and free tickets to travel.
Once the summer vacations begin, clubs and district complexes witness a huge turnout of youngsters. But once the academic session resumes, not many kids continue practising. Delhi Gymkhana, Chelmsford Club (Raisina Road), Roshanara Club (Roshanara Gardens), Modern School (Barakhamba Road), Hamdard School, Army Clubs, DDA Complexes, National Sports Club of India (Mathura Road) provide squash courts with a membership fees varying from Rs. 80 to Rs. 100 per month.
One of the most popular disciplines in schools, children play this sport with great enthusiasm. Beginners are given coaching for a year at stadiums like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi Indoor (IGI). Kids over 7 are allowed to take up training here with Rs. 100 as monthly fees and Rs 50 as admission charges.
Athletics Fitness is the main criteria here and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chattrasal Stadium, and Yamuna Sports Complex are the places to be. A beginner who is over 15 can undergo trials every month at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and it’s only on the coach’s discretion that he is allowed to participate in competitions.
Almost all the known clubs have a junior training programme at subsidised rates. Anybody from the age of 6 (Tiger Woods started playing at the age of three) to 60 can start playing and can begin at any time of the year. However, there are special summer camps at all these clubs. The clubs do not provide anything except the training and follow-ups. The equipment can be hired and is available easily.