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Pune’s wrestling stadium that was brought back to life by its citizens

From a ruined structure to busy wrestling venue, the venue shows how the sports complexes should run 

pune Updated: Aug 24, 2017 17:02 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
wrestling,stadium,pune
Damidar Takale, President of Rashtriy Talim Sangh at Chhatrapati Shivaji stadium near Juna Bajar in Pune.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Normally, it has been observed that most of Pune Municipal Corporation’s sports complexes are built with huge enthusiasm, but later on, due to the lack of maintenance and funds, these buildings get ruined. Even after constant follow-up, the civic body chooses to ignore the issue. The hockey stadium in Chikalwadi and KCB ground are some of the classic examples.

However, Chhatrapati Shivaji stadium in Mangalwar Peth, near Juna Bazar (flea market) has turned out to be an exception. The wrestling stadium which was built in 1972, after spending 16 lakhs, had started walking down the same path like the hockey stadiums. A couple of years ago, the ground was nothing but a favourite place for liquor parties and gambling due to lack of proper maintenance.

However, Rashtriya Talim Sangh, who runs the stadium and voluntarily work for the benefit of the city wrestlers, decided to change the scenario and with help from PMC officials, started working on the stadium. With an initiative from National Congress Party (NCP) leader Bapusaheb Pathare, funds of ₹70 lakhs were allotted to the stadium. The actual work of the stadium started in 2012 and was finished in 2016.

The most interesting part was that the renovation work received huge support from the local residents. They willingly relocated to other places for the construction work and later, also cleaned and help maintain the premises of the stadium.

“Along with the renovation work, we had decided to build a protection wall. For that, some of the huts in nearby slum areas were required to relocate. We were not sure of how the residents will react, but they willingly relocated to other places and helped us with the renovation process,” said Damodar Takale, trustee of Rashtriya Talim Sangh.

The renovation work included the construction of a public gallery, centre stage and a protection wall. Along with this, two international quality wrestling mats were also given to the stadium and a gym was opened on the premises of the stadium.

As a result, the venue is now buzzing with upcoming wrestlers. Almost all selection trials for inter-school, district and divisional tournaments are held at the stadium. Even during winters, several wrestlers come to the stadium for training and they get a good sparring practice from city’s wrestlers.

“We give them rooms to stay and they manage their own food. From the past two years, women wrestlers have also started coming here for training. As this stadium is run by a trust, we don’t charge a single penny for the tournaments,” Takale added.

Need for indoor stadium

Even though the stadium can host wrestling tournaments and training throughout the year, it’s an open stadium and remains closed for four months during monsoon. The authorities are now planning to convert it into an indoor stadium so that it can be used without interruption.

“We can’t put the international quality mat in the open as it will get ruined due to the weather. So each and every time we have to put it inside. We also can’t host several tournaments like inter-school tournaments, which are normally held in July-September. Therefore, it is a necessity to have a proper roof to this open area, so that we can put all our instruments and mats at the venue. The stadium can be then be used for kabaddi and other sports as well,” said Takale.However, it’s a huge project and as per Takale, its likely to cost around 3-4 crores and will take at least a year to get functional.

“We have approached the Maharashtra Wrestling Association president and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and are hoping to receive a positive response soon,” Takale added.

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 17:01 IST