Closing in on completing one year,the Ameya Classic Club’s roller skating track continues to be India’s first and only international track.
From the onset of the recently concluded CBSE National Roller Skating competition,Santosh Pingulkar carefully watches the track amid the flurry of parents and coaches at the Ameya Classic Club in Virar. When asked,the clubs sports coordinator
smiles before he says that he was there to support the track. Pingulkar’s sentiment was shared among all the officials present,who valued the prized skating rink for the simple reason that it was Indias first,and for now,the only track built according to international standards.
Undoubtedly excited to give a tour of the rectangular rink,rounded on its shorter side,Pingulkar leads visitors towards the edge of the track,divulging its history as athletes pass
by. It took us just six months to build it, he said. Prior to the construction,the area allotted for the project was a wasteland,covered with overgrown grass,sand,gravel and stone.
The land belongs to the former Mayor of Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation,Rajeev Patil,fondly referred to as Nana by the residents.
The club too belongs to him, adds Pingulkar,pointing towards the white three-year-old building overlooking the track.
The idea behind building the track,according to Pingulkar,came up when president of the Skating Association of Maharashtra,Pushpendra Kumar Singh,approached Patil
with the concept. He reacted very well to the suggestion and plans started immediately, says Singh. Placed at a remote location,given its presences in the northern Mumbai suburb
Virar,Singh claims that Patil hoped the facility will bring people from all over Mumbai to the rink. He wanted to bring Colaba to Virar, said Singh.
Regarding the time taken to build the 200-meter-long and six-meter-wide rink,Pingulkar claims that it was built in half the time designated. We had originally planned a one-year
target. But then Singh told us that if its ready on time,we could host the 50th national games, he says. The track was designed according to the blueprints retrieved from a professional skating rink material manufacturing company,
Vesmaco. With the information at hand,civil contractor Ratilal Patel,who had also worked on the construction of the club itself,came forward to build the track. Nothing happened
without my permission or guidance. Everything went off smoothly,but the banking bit delayed us a bit. The molten tar kept flowing down the slope,so we had to wait for it to cool
off before we could proceed further, says Patel,adding that the banking angle is set according to international standards at 9.45 degrees.
Despite the track being built according to the design provided by the Italian company,Patel took the liberty of adding his own innovations to the track. Given the intensity of the
famed Mumbai rains,Patel added 24 drainpipes to the underground drainage system,as compared to the single pipe recommended in the original design. The track also includes an
underground electric circuit system with power outlets available within the rink. It eliminates the need of wires running across the track,and also supports the floodlights,he
The finish given to the rinks surface is based on a synthetic layering,another altered aspect of the tracks design,that provides a significant grip to a skates wheels’ and reduces
the chances of friction burns,should an athlete fall. A second track for road-races has also been built 50 meters away from the flood-lit rink. The track is 425 meter long with rounded edges and is eight meter wide. It is made from the same material as an ordinary road. The track circles around a man-made lake,which according to Pingulkar,had existed before the track was built. We had started working on the main rink in July 2012,and when it was almost ready,we were told
about the road-race track. So we decided to build it around the lake. It took us just 10 days to build it, he said.
As the two tracks near their first year anniversary in January,they will serve as host for the upcoming Roller Skating Federation of India (RSFI) National Championship in the coming week. Maintenance for the tracks mainly involves care to the main rink. We get the surface pressure cleaned every month.
The only danger we have to the rink is chewing gum that some skaters sneak in at times,” says Pingulkar. Patel,however,confidently says that the rink will face no damage for the next 10 years.
With the rink becoming a chief venue for future national games,Singh hopes that the venue will also be chosen to host an international event. The federation has put forward
its bid for both the Asian and World Championships. The decision should be made in February,so were keeping our fingers crossed, he adds.