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Poor infra, high costs let aspiring athletes down

Sayantan Sarkar

Bangalore, September, 2018:A lack of standard infrastructure, equipment and physical education is hindering aspiring athletes in Bengaluru and rural areas of Karnataka.
“Overall 80% of a person’s capability is determined by his/her genetics; only 20% can be trained”, said NP Rameshan, regional head of infrastructure, Sports Authority of India (SAI). “Physical education is, therefore, critical for aspiring athletes.”
Physical education, aimed at developing a student’s physical competence and skills, is neglected in India, Rameshan informed The Observer. Bengaluru has few schools and colleges that have physical education as part of their curriculum.
Commenting on the state of facilities at Sri Kanteerava Stadium, Jaiprakash Shetty, a sprinter for the past two decades, said: “Kanteerava Stadium has a synthetic field for athletes, but the grass field has been given to the Jindal South West Holdings Ltd (JSW) for conducting ISL matches. Athletes have to constantly train on a synthetic track as they don’t have access to the ground, which strains their calf muscles.”
Karnataka Athletic Association boxing coach Sourav Guha noted: “The state of the boxing ring isn’t good. It hasn’t been changed since 1990s.”
“One of the major issues with the city is that parents do not give full freedom to their children in taking up a career in sports.”
SAI has a synthetic athletic track for sprinters which is made of polyurethane granules, a synthetic hockey field and a blue turf from Sports technology International, Australia, a tennis courts, an outdoor volleyball clay court and other outdoor facilities that are on a par with international standards.
Rameshan said that in rural areas, people are more “genetically advanced” as they work in fields and factories but do not have money. The problem lies with the cost of sporting equipment. Archery equipment costs Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh. “People who have the potential might not have the money to possess these equipment. The government does not take care of these issues properly as funds provided are minimal.”
Rana Subee, a kho kho player at SAI, emphasized on the importance of looking after athletes. “At SAI, we have a separate dietitian and analyst for every sport which helps in improving our game. States in India can improve their facilities by following in the footsteps of SAI.”
About the cost of sporting facilities, Rameshan said: “It is a concern for aspiring athletes. The nation wants gold medals, but we are not even able to provide the basic infrastructure.”