CUDDALORE: The decision of Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) to charge fees from the users of playfields in the government stadiums has upset the sportspersons and also the public.
The SDAT has fixed fees for every playfield and instructed the district sports officials to collect the fees from the users. It is more likely to be implemented from the month of November. The users of stadiums, particularly the sportsmen, had expressed their resentment over this decision and demanded the SDAT to withdraw the plan.
As of now, anybody can join any sports and games and use the respective playfields without any cost. A large number of morning walkers have also been using the stadium. The introduction of Pay and Play policy may cripple the sports sector as it will decrease the number of persons attracted towards sports.
SDAT has differentiated the stadiums into three categories based on their locations, whether it is corporations or urban or rural districts, and fixed separate fees structures for each category stadiums. For instance, many persons have been using the athletic track in the government stadiums for free of cost but after the implementation of the fees structure, they have to pay `300 per month. The fees differ based on the categories of the stadiums’ locations.
“Health and education should not be made commercial. It should be the duty of the government to provide better health service and education at free of cost. Sport activities are directly linked to health. If the SDAT starts collecting money from the users of playfields, then number of users will decrease. Sports will become distant dream for poor students,” a senior sportsperson said.
Sportspersons pointed out that there are many vacancies for the post of coaches in the government stadiums. They demanded the government to allot more funds to develop sports sector in the State and appoint coaches and other staff immediately.
Another sportsperson, who has been practicing in Cuddalore Anna Stadium, said that there are about 14 sports and games activities available in the stadium. But there are only six coaches working there, that too on temporary basis. Without appointing coaches for all sports and games, collecting fees from the users is absolutely not fair, he felt.
“First, the government should take steps to provide better service and then think of collecting money. If the government does not have fund for the maintenance of the stadiums, it should ask the private companies in every district to spend money to maintain every playfield under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme. The burden should not be put on poor sportspersons,” some added.
The most worrisome part is that the SDAT’s decision to collect `250 per month for morning walks inside the stadiums. Many people with health issues depend on the stadiums for morning walk. Of them, majority are senior citizens. Poor people use them too. In this situation, forcing them to pay `250 per month is uncalled-for.
Playing it wrong
The most worrisome part of SDAT’s Pay and Play policy has been the decision to collect H250 per month for morning walks inside its stadiums. Senior citizens will be the most affected by the move.