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A world-class venue for every sport

Mumbai's sporting achievements are in danger of being wiped off the Indian map altogether, as its playgrounds have all but disappeared and children are succumbing to academic pressure, with sports being relegated almost entirely into the background.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2009 00:41 IST
Viren Rasquinha

One years ago, Mumbai was the country's sporting capital and supplied outstanding sportspersons to national teams, be it cricket, hockey, football, athletics or other sports. Indeed, one could reel off a long list of past sporting achievements. Unfortunately, there are not many recent ones we can be proud of.

In fact, Mumbai's sporting achievements are in danger of being wiped off the Indian map altogether, as its playgrounds have all but disappeared and children are succumbing to academic pressure, with sports being relegated almost entirely into the background.

The city's poor sporting infrastructure — lack of proper grounds and equipment — is one of the biggest hurdles. However, there is scope for Mumbai to regain its past glory. Providing certain measures are implemented.

Reward school and college players: All schools should ensure that at least two hours every week are dedicated to sports. School and college managements should give additional marks to students who represent their school/college/university/district/state/etc. as it would encourage them to strike the right balance between academics and sports.

School sports are run very well but there is a vacuum at the college level. The University of Mumbai should ensure that there are more inter-college and inter-university tournaments in every sport and, again, motivate students by giving them additional marks for participating and winning.

The hub-and-spoke model: The state association for every sport should prepare a programme for the year and ensure that it is implemented in local clubs and communities which should be encouraged to conduct sporting events on a regular basis or at least on an annual basis. This creates a community bonding over sports and develops a sporting culture.

We have to make up for the lack of space or big open grounds by organising mini-tournaments for cricket/football/hockey, etc. Star players in various sports should be encouraged to visit schools and also hold short summer camps. Meeting sporting heroes can have a great impact on kids.

Media support: The media can make or break a sport or sportspersons. Newspapers should dedicate a daily page to local sport and highlight the achievements of Mumbai's sporting stars. Our city needs heroes and role models for kids to look up to. The media should also highlight corporates sponsoring sports events. This will encourage more corporate sponsorship for sports.

Governmental support: Build at least one world-class sporting venue for every sport by revamping existing sporting venues. Basic requirements are a good playing ground, comfortable seating for spectators, clean changing rooms and toilets.

Parental support: Parents should encourage their kids to actively participate in sports. Sports teaches you discipline and teamwork, builds your personality and improves communication skills. It also inculcates a health-conscious lifestyle.

Viren Rasquinha, hockey Olympian and former captain, is COO of Olympic Gold Quest, an NGO that funds India's Olympic hopefuls.