Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Hotwar, Ranchi
It’s a situation akin to the father of the bride having an empty wallet before the wedding for no fault of his.
Only four working days are left for the 25th East Zone Athletics Championship to start in Ranchi at the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, Hotwar, but Jharkhand Athletics Association (JAA) is left in the lurch without funds.
The JAA is hosting two major events — the zonal one between August 17 and 19 and the 53rd National Open Athletics Championship in September — for which it had sought Rs 60 lakh from the state sports department in July.
The department mandarins gave the JAA an “in-principle agreement”, which in layman language means a yes.
But the sports department hadn’t released funds till date. To add to the worry, sports secretary Vandana Dadel who holds the authority to process the file is on leave and will return after August 22.
A desperate JAA president Madhukant Pathak is now trying for corporate sponsorships for the zonal event to start on August 17.
The main expenses lay in offering hospitality to visiting sportspersons and officials, Pathak added.
“Just conducting a competition doesn’t need much money. But since we have a tradition of organising free food and accommodation for all the guests, players and delegates, the expense is sizeable,” said Pathak.
Some 350 guests, including sportspersons and officials, are likely to come for the east zone event. So far, the only things the JAA has managed to organise on credit of Rs 1 lakh are 300 mattresses and 200 bed sheets.
He added “no one” had evinced interest in the east zone championship — the immediate need.
They might “get a few private sponsorships for the September nationals”, Pathak added.
Does that mean the event will get cancelled?
“We can’t let the state hang its head in shame in the national arena. We are trying to find out other sources,” Pathak stressed.
Lack of funds apart, the JAA also has to pay a rent of Rs 8 lakh to the state sports department to use the Birsa athletics stadium.
“We have requested sports director Ashok Kumar to at least exempt the stadium rent and chip in with at least 50 per cent of the proposed funds,” Pathak said.
What if neither happens? “I am hitting banks from today (Monday) for loan. We have to host it and we will do it anyhow as it is about reputation of state now,” he said.
How can sports outfits raise money on their own?