- RIP athletics in Karnataka?
BENGALURU: Athletics or football? Athletes are crying foul over Sree Kanteerava Stadium being taken over by footballers. But there is much more to worry about than just football at the city’s main stadium.
When Express visited the stadium, what greeted us was a defunct gymnasium, wear and tear of synthetic tracks, stinking toilets.
In short, this means poor maintenance. The stadium seemed to be no longer a safe training ground for aspiring athletes. A trainer said they may have to forget producing competitive athletes from this ground as the facilities are nowhere close to international standards.
The athletes blame the situation on the stadium being given to hosting football matches. The genesis of the tussle can be traced to the 2014 agreement between the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) and the JSW Bengaluru Football Club when the city was in the running to host the FIFA Under-17 World Cup this year.
Under the agreement, BFC was allowed to host matches and train at the stadium. Now, with the contract up for renewal, the issue has reached a flashpoint again. Fed up with football matches disrupting their training sessions, and having limited access to the stadium, athletes now want to regain the lost ground. Said an athlete, “Sportspersons have a schedule. But football matches and public events here force us to skip practice sessions.”
Ramesh, specialised secathlon coach, said, “We never encouraged handing over Kanteerava stadium to private agencies for development. However, authorities concerned entertained them. We don’t have any facilities here to be proud of. The authorities have not bothered to upgrade them.”
The parent of a sportsperson said, “I do not want to put my kid’s life at risk and get him trained. There are many instances of injury here. I was also told that there are security issues, especially for women.”
Glass pieces everywhere
With the Junior Federation championship selections from May 19 and Asian Championship selections in June, the athletes are forced to practise outside the stadium where there is a 200m track. The throwers -- discus, shot put, javelin and hammer -- are forced to train for the upcoming selections near the Archery range which is filled with sharp-edged glass pieces.
“The place is filled with glass pieces,” said an athlete who is practising discus throw for the Junior Federation Cup selections. Asked who dumped these pieces here, the athlete said, “the debris and the waste materials from the stadium are dumped here and we do not have any other option but to practise here as football tournaments are organised inside the stadium.”
Over to the Sports minister
Minister for Youth Empowerment and Sports Pramod Madhwaraj said, “We are developing Kanteerava stadium at a cost of Rs 6 crore. We are also investing Rs 2 crore on new gymnasium equipment.”
On the renewal of the contract to BFC, he said, “The contract is going to end soon and a decision on the renewal will be taken only after taking athletes into consideration. I will also review the development works that were carried out during this four-year contract period.”
He said, “I am aware that athletes are having problems with the BFC. We will sort out the matter soon.”
Bringing some cheer to sportspersons, he said, “Events will not be held here at the cost of sports. I will ensure that sports training or sports events are not affected.”
He further added, “Many private clubs train sportspersons at the stadium and collect fees running into lakhs of rupees. But none of these clubs has helped in improving the infrastructure of Kanteerava stadium. We will put an end to all such things. Many events were held here free of cost. This too will be stopped in future.”
MoU between Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) and JSW Bengaluru FC, dated May 22, 2014
1 BFC to play home matches, conduct training before football matches
2 BFC should inform DYES of match days and season duration
3 Contract tenure is till FIFA U-17 World Cup (No date mentioned)
4 BFC to pay DYES B50k per match and B25k for each preparation day
5 BFC mgmt should ensure upkeep of stadium
6 DYES to ensure that no activities that can harm football pitch take place
Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium
Two outdoor rock climbing walls
8-lane 400m synthetic athletic track
Synthetic surfaced areas for field events: Long jump, high jump, triple jump and pole vault
Football field 100mx68m in size
Sports Football, Athletics (track and field)
Other events Film shooting, exhibition, rally, walkathon
Owned by: Dept of Youth Empowerment & Sports, Karnataka
Maintained by (for football): JSW Bengaluru FC