Gurgaon kids eyeing ice skating glory rue lack of government support
The children lamented the lack of government support and investment in improving the facilities for ice skatingUpdated: Jun 05, 2017, 23:48 IST
The sight of an eight-year-old girl spinning around, jumping and performing incredible stunts can give you an adrenaline rush. Add roller skates on her feet and ice on the ground and the experience would leave you asking for more.
Clad in a bright orange dress, Lavanya Wali was one among many kids who started her second summer training camp on Monday.
“About two years back, I came to the ice skating rink for fun. I skated here for an hour and saw other kids doing spins and jumps. And I thought to myself, I want to do this too,” Lavanya said after her training.
She has been learning ice skating since then and wants to represent India in the event at the Olympics.
Lavanya is not the only one.
Several children, aged 6-18, had started their training at the iSKATE rink at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon at 9am on Monday. Most, with the aim of representing India at ice skating events internationally.
Sadly, their aspirations are far from fulfilled the sport is largely ignored in the country.
“Ice skating is not even considered a sport in India,” said Russian coach Liubov who has been teaching figure skating to Lavanya and others for four years.
“The facilities in India for ice skating are non-existent. The government doesn’t invest in the sport here,” she said.
Col SC Narang, director, Ice Skating Association of India (ISAI), rued the lack of support from the Union government.
“Ice skating is a very expensive sport. Here, as we don’t have enough ice. It requires crores worth of investments to maintain the proper and levelled grounds for ice skating,” he said.
Despite the need to invest significantly in the sport, the ISAI has no support from the government.
“We only get funds from the international ice skating federation. The central government gives us no funds.”
A glaring example of what the lack of support can do is the ice skating rink in Dehradun. It was the largest indoor ice skating ring in India, but since being transferred to the Uttarakhand government, the ring has been dysfunctional.
The parents too have similar complaints.
Vinny Jagal, a resident of Noida, has to come everyday to Gurgaon for her son, who’s training here.
“My son, Eklavya, is a national champion. But every time there is any tournament, we have to come to Gurgaon for practising. The government should be investing in the sport,” Vinny said.
Dr Pradnya has come for the camp in Gurgaon from Mumbai.
“My daughter has been selected to represent India at the Winter Olympics in 2022. But nobody cares about ice skating. The ice ring in Mumbai’s Essel World is very small,” she said.
But these requests have fallen on deaf ears.
Karan Rai, Operations Head of iSKATE said that they initiated the ice skating ring and collaborated with ISAI, Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI), and Special Olympics Bharat, so that they could get government’s attention.
“ We have been trying to communicate with the government for six years, but not once have we been allowed to do so.”
The ice skating rink at Ambience Mall has received about 1.6 million customers till date, but ice skating has still not achieved the status of a sport.
As Gitesh Vaidya, a coach appointed by ISAI, rightly pointed out, “Kids have been practising ice skating on the normal ground. They do roller skating to stay in touch with ice skating. It is sad.”