Historically, National Games has been a single city event. Apart from following the Olympic model, concentrating on a single city brings with it obvious logistical advantages. The soon to be held 35th National Games, for the first time, will be held across 29 venues in seven districts and to that extent dilutes the scope for leaving any lasting imprint in terms of a city-specific infrastructure upgrade as was visible in the case of the 2011 Jharkhand National Games where Ranchi benefited or the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune in 2008.
With only a Rs.611-crore mark-up, the takeaways for Kerala can be nowhere near the legacy left for Pune when Rs.1,189 crore was pumped into a world class sporting complex and sprucing up of city roads. Sure, the Trivandrum International Stadium, scheduled to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, will enable the capital city to pitch for international football and cricket matches. But the city will still not have international class venues for hockey and athletics — two events that generate tremendous interest. Reason: the new hockey stadium is coming up at Kollam while athletics is being held in a renovated stadium, hardly world class.
The roofless aquatics complex that scuttles any chance of hosting an international competition and the equally roofless cycling velodrome are examples of taking the eye off the central concept. Concentrating on a given perimeter would have opened up greater possibilities of setting up quality training facilities within a sports complex, enabling better functioning of centralised academies or sports hostels to produce future champions. Once the din of this National Games dies down, some questions will remain unanswered. And pretty much on top of the listwould be the one about a lasting legacy or asset creation. Surely, Kerala would rue this opportunity lost.