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Roller skating buffs in Kerala face a roller coaster ride

Amid calls from medical experts for encouraging physical activity among kids, the popular sport of roller skating has been plagued by the absence of scientifically constructed roller skating rinks.

Published: 23rd April 2018 02:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2018 03:22 AM   |  A+A-

Young skaters practice at a basketball court in Kozhikode | T P Sooraj

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Amid calls from medical experts for encouraging physical activity among kids, the popular sport of roller skating has been plagued by the absence of scientifically constructed roller skating rinks. The only rink in Thodupuzha,  exclusively meant for roller skating, does not conform to the prescribed standards.

This has forced the children, who have taken to roller skating in a big way, to use volleyball courts as skating rinks. Kerala Roller Skating Association secretary Sebastian Prem said construction of a rink as per global standards is very expensive and the association and skating clubs do not have the necessary financial muscle.

“Constructing a standard rink costs Rs 50 lakh and above. Finding land for the construction is also a challenge. Using quality materials will further escalate the cost,” he said.The lack of rinks affects the performance of children when they go for competitions outside the state. Last year, the association had sent a team to the national competition held in Chennai a few days early to make them acquainted with the rink.

“We arranged this with the special permission of the Kerala State Sports Council,” he said.
The rinks akin to cycling velodromes are necessary to practice speed skating. Synthetic coating on the surface is crucial since it provides grip and speed to the skater. The wear and tear on the wheels will be less if the children practise on well-coated rinks. However, since the coating is expensive, cement is used on the surface which causes slippage and injury to the skater.The association secretary alleged the Sports Council is not giving priority to setup facilities to promote skating.

“The Sports Council can construct a rink with proper facilities and specifications. But lack of interest in the sport has led to its neglect,” he said.Abhi Ismail, a Kozhikode-based roller skating coach, said several children have evinced interest in the game.

“However, the lack of proper facility is discouraging them from taking up the sport seriously. Good rinks are a must to prepare for competition,” he said.“When our children competed outside the state, even the best performers failed to put on a good show,” added Ismail.

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