AFTER A wait of more than four years, the Sports Authority of India Regional Centre will come up in Chandigarh with Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Vijay Goel announcing that the foundation stone would be laid soon and that the land and building plans for the SAI facility have been finalised. It will be SAI’s 11th regional centre in India and fourth in the region after Patiala, Sonepat and Lucknow. The 15-acre centre will be built near the Airport Road in Zirakpur. The centre was announced on October 16, 2013, and funds were received by the local SAI office last month.
“We are coming up with the SAI Regional Centre in Zirakpur and it will cater to players from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh. The centre will be built on a 15-acre plot and Rs 13 crore has been sanctioned for the first phase. The first phase will include facilities for football, athletics, administrative block and slowly, we will introduce facilities for indoor sports also,” said Goel, who was in Chandigarh on Saturday.
The centre officials have been operating from the Sector 42 Stadium since 2013 and a permanent sports facility would boost sports infrastructure in Tricity. “We received the funds in June and the foundation stone will be laid by the honourable Union sports minister soon. Due to GST, there was some delay in tender process and that will happen shortly,” said Lalita Sharma, Director In-Charge, SAI Regional Centre, Chandigarh. Goel, who took over as Union sports minister in May last year, also shared the Centre’s plans to provide Rs 5 lakh scholarships to 1,000 athletes per year and recently, the central government also took a decision to combine all the school national games. The new school national games competition will be held next year and over 10,000 sportspersons are expected to take part in 23 disciplines. The Centre has also launched an online portal to scout talent in the country.
“One of the key decisions we took this year is the launch of the sports ministry’s sports talent portal where players above eight years can submit their bio-data. We will also introduce 1,000 scholarships in 10 disciplines and players will be given Rs 5 lakh each for the next eight years. Every year, we will add a thousand students. Besides, we will also conduct a combined school national games where 10,000 students will take part in 23 disciplines,” said Goel. With India playing host to the FIFA U-17 World Cup this year, focus will be on the six venues and the India U-17 team will compete against the world’s best football teams. The sports ministry has also decided to set up a special cell for next year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
“We will create a special cell for next year’s Commonwealth Games and it will also be done for the 2020 Olympics. We have reviewed the sports code for the national federations and all the federations will be required to have a CEO who will oversee proceedings in a professional manner. We will also make doping a criminal offence and we have even formed a women committee where women players can contact directly regarding any problem. Regarding the FIFA U-17 World Cup, we are aiming to make the school tickets free for schoolkids at the six venues. We are reaching 5,000 schools under this and our target is to reach 11 million kids,” said Goel.