Pitching for football and hockey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said sports apart from cricket needed to be promoted. “We have done well in cricket, which is a matter of pride, but we can’t forget sports like football and hockey,” said Modi while inaugurating a swanky sports complex Arena in Maninagar, a constituency he used to represent as Gujarat chief minister. The complex, built by TransStadia, is claimed to be India’s first convertible stadium.
Appealing to governments and society as a whole to make sports part of life and culture, he said that the youths of the country have ability to do well. “But, they need better opportunity and facilities,” he said, asking the society to turn sports into an industry.
Modi added that playing is also a service to the nation and life of sportspersons are full of inspiration. “One should learn how to cope up with victory and failure from the sportsmen,” said Modi, appealing to the families to let their children play whatever sport they choose. “Instead of playing video games, children should play outdoor games.”
He gave example of cricketer Parthiv Patel’s uncle who struggled to make him a good player.
Modi further said that when he was approached with the idea of the stadium, he immediately approved it as chief minister. The stadium has been built at a cost of over Rs 500 crore on public-private-partnership (PPP) mode. The stadium is said to have got FIFA standard natural turf. It can be used for indoor, outdoor sports, entertainment among others.
The stadium, with a capacity of 20,000 people, was almost packed, majority being schoolchildren from faraway districts like Godhra, Mehsana and Sabarkantha. Several sportspersons, including shuttler K Srikanth, who recently won Austrian Open, former shuttler and national coach Pulella Gopichand, wrestler Sunil Kumar, cricketers Chiteshwar Pujara and Irfan Pathan, among others were present at the inauguration along with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and actor and MP Paresh Raval.
In the first phase of its commencement last year, the stadium had sshosted Kabaddi World Cup.