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High fee queers hockey pitch

When budding and expectant players converge in the Capital from all parts of the country for the 18th Nehru Girls Hockey Tournament in October, they will not get to showcase their skills at the Dhyanchand National Stadium. Navneet Singh reports.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2011 23:48 IST
Navneet Singh

When budding and expectant players converge in the Capital from all parts of the country for the 18th Nehru Girls Hockey Tournament in October, they will not get to showcase their skills at the Dhyanchand National Stadium.

Reason: An exorbitant daily fee of R15,000 charged by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), which manages the stadium, has ensured that no tournament has been held since the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in October last year.

Revamped at a whopping R262 crore for the Games, the fee is a rebuttal of the sports minister, Ajay Maken's, claim that the CWG legacy is intact and the world-class infrastructure has been thrown open to the public.

The minister, who was at the stadium on Monday on the occasion of the National Sports Day, was in a spot when asked about the stadium being opened for tournaments. As expected, he preferred to avoid the query.

Apart from the World Cup and CWG, no competition has been conducted, and in fact, the Nehru Hockey Tournament Society has decided to conduct competition for the current calendar year at the Shivaji Stadium.

While the main pitch is out of bounds, for other than national camps, the 'B' and 'C' grounds have recently been thrown open under SAI's 'come and play' scheme.

Kukoo Walia, a member of the Nehru Hockey Tournament Society, said they were keen to conduct the event at the Capital's hockey hub, but the fee had kept them away. "Our tournament runs for six weeks, it's beyond our means to pay such a big amount," he said.

"There should be a policy to subsidise the fee structure for tournaments so that youngsters can avail of world-class infrastructure," he added.