HYDERABAD:Hyderabad has consistently churned out some of the best sportspersons in the country. Recently, even Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao promised 2 per cent quota in government jobs for sportspersons. However, are universities in the State nurturing sporting talent anymore? Are they providing sufficient and quality infrastructure to help them train and excel? If facilities at the 100-year-old Osmania University are to be considered an indicator, the answer is a disappointing NO.
A glaring example of the State of affairs is the 'indoor stadium" at the Osmania University, which now resembles a rundown godown. It has asbestos sheets -- riddled with holes -- for roof an the wooden flooring is broken and damaged at several places. The floor is covered with bird droppings and there's no proper lighting, toilets or other facilities.
While Physical Education (PE) teachers at the university yearn for sythetic turfs, it seems like a far cry. The situation is not much different at OU's constituent colleges like the Koti Women's College or Nizam's College. Although they have huge playgrounds, it does not help sportspersons, especially athletes, much as they have no dedicated tracks. The massive football ground at the University is not maintained as per the standards and one can often see outsiders playing cricket there.
Where are the coaches?
The University has thousands studying in its campus, constituent and affiliated colleges. It conducts various sports competitions round the year. Yet, surprisingly, the varsity does not have a single coach. "The University had six coaches on deputation from the Sports Authority of India till 2014. Now, we do not have a single coach," says the principal of University College of Physical Education LB Laxmikanth Rathod.
It is the part-time faculty of the UCPE and the four permanent faculty of the Department of Physical Education who teach at the UCPE, who take care of providing some training for students interested in sports apart from conducting various regular administrative works.
It is only during some tournament or national level competitions that the university provides coaches hired on part time basis. Moreover, most of these coaches are not even from the Sports Authority of Telangana State or SAI due to the poor remuneration.
Prof Rathod says, "Every year we have about 50-60 students in the university and affiliated colleges who are national-level players in 30-35 kinds of sports. At least 20-25 students taking admission each year would have played sports at international level. On top of this there are hundreds of students in OU, its constituent colleges and affiliated colleges who are interested in sports and take part in inter-collegiate or inter-university sports competitions."
He further said, "Neither is there proper infrastructure nor coaches in the university. Even some of the corporate schools in Hyderabad have as many as 35 coaches If proper infrastructure is provided by the university, the sporting culture and sportspersons from colleges will benefit a lot."
V Deepika, who is the director of physical education for Kothi Women's College, which has about 35 students who have played sports at national level and international level, said, "From the college side we try to provide the students as much support as possible, including financial incentives. But if the ground is not properly maintained due to lack of ground keeping staff, it will affect the performance of athletes as they will lack the competitive edge, which is also affected due to lack of coaches."
Prof Rathod said, "The university has allocated 40 acres land for development of a sports complex. `10 crores was also allocated for development of sports infrastructure, out of the Rs 200 crores allocated last year for the university for development of infrastructure by the state government." Unfortunately, all that the university received last month from Telangana government was `50 crore and even that the university failed to utilize before the financial year and nothing came up over the 40 acres area.
UCPE in poor state
The College of Physical Education in the university, that offers Masters and PhD courses in Physical Education, is being run with six part-time teachers. It is being run by six part-time teachers and four full time professors from the Department of Physical Education, where the strength of teachers was once 17.
Prof Rathod says, "It is the oldest self-financed college in the university, set up in 1993 but has not been regularized yet. There is a dearth of modern equipment that are used nowadays in sports, in the laboratories of the college, like kits for testing blood or lactic acid levels. This will not just help the 30 students pursuing their research with us but will also help us in testing performance of the university athletes as well." While such is the state of affairs in the university college, OU has seven affiliated colleges which also provide M.P.Ed.
The college is planning to write to the University Grants Commission for money to set up 6 full fledged laboratories including Anatomy, Physiology, Physiotherapy, Computer science and sports psychology. Moreover, it is also planning to mobilise funds under the Khelo India scheme of central government for development of sports infrastructure. However, it is to be seen how much money the university receives under Khelo India, as till now none of the projects for improvement of sports infrastructure in the country under Khelo India is in Telangana.