Having four sports complexes each in Sector 7, Sector 42, Sector 46 and Lake Club apart from CLTA Tennis Stadium in Sector 10 and Cricket Stadium in Sector 16, Chandigarh’s sport infrastructure does look good on paper. But most of these complexes need an upgrade or are undergoing renovation. While the Chandigarh Administration has made a proposal for new sports complexes at Manimajra and Sarangpur, the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium recently saw its astro turf being re-laid after a gap of more than three years. The facilities for gymnastics, volleyball and basketball at the Sector 7 Sports Complex are undergoing a revamp and the new complexes at Manimajra and Sarangpur will also have facilities for football and basketball apart from volleyball.
“Yes, some of the facilities need an upgrade. We are upgrading Sector 7 Sports Complex, CLTA Tennis Stadium and the work to construct new sports complexes at Manimajra and Sarangpur is under process. This year, we have allocated Rs 13.5 crore for this,” says K S Bharti, joint director (sports), Chandigarh.
Apart from the absence of a fully equipped all-weather swimming pool and a fully automatic shooting range, Chandigarh also lacks a synthetic athletics track, something which national athletes like Neeraj Chopra and shooters like Anjum Moudgill need. The Sector 7 Sports Complex and Sector 46 Sports Complex have a grass athletics track and all the athletics competitions are played at these two venues only. “Having no athletics track in Chandigarh is a big disadvantage for players. Most of the competitions are held at synthetic track at the national and international level and training at grass is not the same. The chances of getting injured are higher at grass. When I am in Chandigarh, I have to train at the Panchkula athletics track,” says DAV College athlete Neeraj Chopra, who made a new record in javelin throw in the Inter-University Championships last month.
There are plans to construct synthetic athletics tracks at the Sector 7 and Sector 46 sports complexes but limited space means that the tracks would be made smaller than planned.
“We have sent proposals to construct synthetic tracks in Chandigarh. We wanted to have a 10-lane track at the Sector 46 complex but there is a problem of Government College wall which hinders the expansion plan. Hence we revised it to eight-lane. Similarly, we have sent a proposal for a six-lane track at Sector 7 Sports Complex,” says Bharti.
Region’s training ground for athletes
While Panchkula does have one sports complex in the form of the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Sector 3, the fact that the complex has the Tricity’s only synthetic athletics track apart from facilities of a cricket stadium and badminton hall makes it a good choice for the local and Chandigarh players. North India’s biggest multi-purpose hall is being built at the stadium with a projected cost of Rs 20 crore apart from offices for the proposed Haryana Adventure Academy and also a anti-doping office and laboratory for Haryana athletes for the district-level tournaments.
“Currently, we have facilities for cricket, athletics, basketball, volleyball and badminton. Apart from local players, players from other districts in Haryana also come for trials and train here. North India’s biggest multipurpose hall is being constructed at the complex. It will have indoor facilities for basketball, volleyball, wrestling, judo and boxing and it is being constructed at a cost of more than Rs 20 crore. It is expected to be completed by October this year,” says D K Rana, district sports officer, Panchkula.
While para-athletes like Narinder Kumar, who is going to take part in Asian championships this month, also train on the stadium, the fact that the general public comes for walks at the athletics track makes training a concern for the players. “There should be specific time for general public for walking on the track. Some come in slippers which bring dust onto the track. Also, sometimes there is a problem of coordination between the HUDA employees for the maintenance work. The track has got minor damage due to this,” says a coach.
Apart from Narender, junior athletes like Nusrat Ali, who won a medal in Asian Youth Athletics Championships, also train at the stadium. But the closure of the Athletics Nursery by the Haryana government has meant that the athletes are training on their own. “It has been tough for us. The administration should start the athletics nursery again as soon as they can. It will help junior athletes,” says an athlete.
Planned sports complexes and proximity advantage
With the Punjab government having one international hockey stadium in Mohali and two stadiums in Sectors 78 and 63, the presence of five sports complexes managed by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority in sectors 59, 61, 71, 65 and 69, which were completed in 2013, has provided the locals and players a chance to train at their home. While the sports complex in Sector 59 is undergoing renovation, the complexes in sectors 69 and 61 are the biggest, providing cricket, football, basketball, volleyball and skating facilities.
Also, the fact that the sports complexes are spread across Mohali makes it viable for the local public and players to train at the suitable complex.
“Initially, most of the residents and youngsters want to play the sport and it is at a later stage that the players show talent and are selected for the district level or state level. The presence of the five sports complexes in five different sectors in Mohali means that most of the local players and residents do not have to travel much to play,” says Mohali cricket coach Dinesh Kumar Sanwal.
While Chandigarh has only one skating rink in Sector 10, Mohali boasts three skating centres at the sports complexes apart from having two all-weather swimming pools. “We have got good response from the local residents and players from Chandigarh also come to play here. Our main focus has been specialised coaching at recreational level too and we have succeeded in this effort,” says Captain (Retd) Mohinder Singh, sports administrator, GMADA.
The Punjab Institute of Sports (PIS) has its office at International Stadium, Mohali, and it will offer specialised training to more than 500 athletes. While the International Hockey Stadium lost the opportunity to host matches of Hockey India League this year, players of Centre for Sports Excellence train at the stadium under the guidance of Sukhvir Grewal, director (training and curriculum), PIS.
“It was the decision of the management of Jaypee Punjab Warriors to shift the matches to Chandigarh. Even the national and international players have praised the International Hockey Stadium in Mohali. The players of our Centre for Sports Excellence also train at the stadium which enables them to train at the same kind of turf which was used in London Olympics,” says Rahul Gupta, director (sports), Punjab.