No room for players
Two years after Games, some things still stay the same.
Some riveting cricket and hockey is keeping sports on Ranchi’s top-of-the-mind recall. Perhaps to balance the triumphs, the state sports department has orchestrated debacles at the Rs 650-crore investment called Morang Gomke Jaipal Singh Munda Mega Sports Complex in Hotwar.
Hotwar’s dream of playing Santa for local sporting talents has not got off the ground, thanks to the sorry state of affairs in the state sports department. Two years after the 34th National Games was held in February 2011, the multi-disciplinary sporting venue is a white elephant sprawling over 275 acres. Forget the touted sports university, even letting out five of the nine stadiums for practice to Jharkhand’s talents came a cropper due to lack of political will and bureaucratic transfers.
On December 3, 2012, the sports department issued ads to throw open five stadiums — Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, Ganpat Rai Indoor Stadium, Harivansh Tanabhagat Indoor Stadium, Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo Indoor Stadium and the Sidho Kanhu Velodrome — to give players practice time from 6am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm.
The department had fixed a one-time membership fee for users — Rs 5,000 for amateurs and professional athletes above poverty line and Rs 1,000 for BPL players. This apart, maintenance fee of Rs 200 from general category athletes and Rs 100 from BPL ones or those below 16 years of age was to be charged every month. The department even promised to issue membership cards within 15 days, with forms issued from December 4 at Sports Authority of Jharkhand (SAJHA) office, Hotwar.
Now, the department has a legitimate excuse. Last week, sports director S.K. Verma was replaced by Ashok Kumar. Kumar, who took charge on February 1, is yet to know about the planned activities, reasoned one of the senior officials involved with the scheme.
Asked what happened between December and February, Ravi Ranjan Kumar Vikram, deputy director sports, who also handles affairs at SAJHA, said the practice scheme “got held up due to technical reasons”.
He elaborated, saying: “The final decision has to come from the sports directorate or secretariat. There were a few technical problems which is why we couldn’t start on schedule. I have informed about this scheme to our new director, but as he joined very recently, he will take time to go through the file.”
The delay has surprised neither sports associations nor players.
“The sports department has hardly done any good to boost the morale of players. Affluent sportspersons can pay any amount for stadiums but poor players like us have to think twice for shelling out Rs 1,000. Still, after seeing the ad, I went about borrowing from friends and family for the membership fee. Nothing happened,” rued Sumit Khalkho, a Bundu-based athlete.